China Telecom Continued To Punch Above Its Weight In July, With Strong Subscriber Adds

CHL: China Mobile logo
China Mobile

The Chinese wireless industry had a relatively strong July, with the major carriers adding a total of 12 million subscribers over the month. China Telecom (NYSE:CHA), the smallest of the three players, continued to fare the best, with 5.3 million subscribers added over the period, driven by its improving 4G coverage and its promotion of larger data traffic products which are increasingly popular with subscribers. While the carrier’s market share stands at about 19%, its share of subscriber additions for the month stood at about 44%. Market leader China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) added about 4.2 million subscribers, while China Unicom added 2.51 million subscribers.

4G Adds Are Slowing On Market Saturation

Things are slowing down on the 4G front, with the three players adding or migrating a cumulative 15 million subscribers to their 4G services over the month, down from levels of over 20 million in the year-ago period. This is largely due to market saturation, with ~75% of all subscribers in the Chinese market currently on 4G plans. However, Chinese carriers are expected to bet big on 5G technology, with plans to launch services commercially by 2020. In its five-year economic plan, which runs through the year 2020, the Chinese government is calling for roughly $400 billion in 5G investment.

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