China Telecom issued its first 5G subscriber numbers, reporting 10.73 million on its next-generation network by end-February, as the nation continued to be among the front-runners in terms of uptake.

The operator’s subscriber tally fell 5.17 million over the first two months of the year to 330.4 million. The company said it will no longer publish 4G figures: it ended 2019 with 281 million such users.

Market leader China Mobile reported last week it signed up 15.4 million 5G customers at end-February, with data usage growing 16.8 per cent and ARPU up 6.5 per cent compared with pre-migration levels.

It also lost customers at the start of the year, with 942 million subs by end-February compared with 950 million at end-2019. It had 745 million LTE users by the close of last month.

China Unicom, the third-largest operator in the mainland by subscribers, released operational data for February today, but did not disclose 5G figures. From end-2019, its 4G user base fell by 1.37 million to 252.4 million, while total mobile customers dropped 7.78 million to 310.7 million

The three companies launched commercial 5G services on 31 October 2019 and have already deployed more than 160,000 base stations covering more than 50 cities.