China Mobile revealed its actual 5G subscriber base is around 200 million, compared with the 401 million ‘5G package customers’ announced last week, meaning just 21 per cent of its users have adopted the next-generation service and use compatible handsets.

Package customers have signed up to 5G plans but don’t have the latest devices supporting the technology.

EVP Gao Tongqing, speaking at the GTI Summit, said its 700,000 5G base stations at end-2021 accounted for about 35 per cent of the global total. It aims to end 2022 with 1 million 5G sites.

China closed 2021 with 1.4 million 5G base stations, covering all prefecture-level cities, some 98 per cent of counties and urban areas, and 80 per cent of townships.

The next few years will be the peak period for new IT infrastructure construction, he suggested, making it critical for achieving carbon peak and carbon neutrality goals. “It’s vital for the industry to collaboratively innovate to further promote green and low-carbon development.”

He explained it stepped up the construction of its data centre infrastructure, deploying 1.2 million rack-mounted servers, with coverage extended to more than 300 regional and provincial cloud centers. It also has built 1,500 CDN edge nodes.

With the accelerated move to the cloud, he said it is taking steps to improve the efficiency of its cloud infrastructure and use more advanced network energy-saving technologies. The operator is conducting research to develop smart network platforms to reduce energy consumption.

Gao said it also using energy-saving components and increasing the use of liquid cooling technology to reduce operating power consumption of servers in data centres.