China’s three major mobile operators started signing up 5G customers in September and already registered more than 10 million users, local news portal Telworld reported.

The operators, which received 5G licences from authorities in early June, are expected to launch commercial services toward the end of this month. All are offering six-month promotional packages, with handsets from Samsung, Vivo, Xiaomi or ZTE.

As of 7 October, market leader China Mobile registered more than 5.6 million 5G customers, exceeding the combined total of China Unicom and China Telecom.

China Mobile’s 5G packages start at CNY140 ($19.58) per month: it aims to more than double its nationwide 5G base station count to 50,000 by the year-end.

Rivals China Telecom and China Unicom, which last month agreed to jointly build and maintain 5G radio access networks across the country, each plans to deploy about 40,000 sites across 40 to 50 cities by end-2019.

South Korean operators, which launched 5G service in early April, surpassed the 3 million 5G subscriber mark on 9 September.

Domestic competition
Within China, there is strong rivalry between major cities, with the Shenzhen government in mid-September offering operators a subsidy of CNY10,000 per base station and detailing a series of incentives for 5G development to support its aim of offering the best urban coverage.

In July, Shanghai detailed plans to cover the entire downtown and main suburban areas with 10,000 compatible base stations by the year-end, and blanket coverage sometime in 2020, while Guangzhou is targeting full coverage with 65,000 base stations by 2021.