LIVE FROM MWC SHANGHAI 2024: GSMA boss Mats Granryd put the focus firmly on China in his opening keynote address, hailing the country’s growth in 5G and support of the industry association’s Open Gateway initiative.

Granryd described China’s 5G growth story as “astonishing”, with more than 1 billion 5G connections forecast by the end of this year.

He noted that one of the main drivers of revenue growth for operators in China is cloud revenue, with cloud now making up 12 per cent of total China operator revenues, a x6 increase since 2020.

Cloud revenue across China’s main mobile operators has totalled $11 billion in the past three years.

5G’s contribution to China’s GDP will also keep growing. By 2030 it will add $260 billion, a doubling from $130 billion last year.

“This is thanks to 5G taking off across industries – from manufacturing to finance, construction to communication. 5G and 5G Advanced will touch almost every sector,” claimed Granryd.

Open Gateway
China is “spearheading and driving” industry progress on the Open Gateway initiative, according to the GSMA director general.

Launched at MWC Barcelona 23 as a way for the mobile industry to open up 5G networks and enable developers to establish APIs to be used globally (a market opportunity of up to $300 billion according to GSMA), the project now has China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom on board, together accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the scheme’s certified APIs globally.

Last month China Telecom also opened the first Open Gateway Open Lab in Beijing.

Pivotal moment for AI
Meanwhile the hot topic of AI was of course a major theme of Granryd’s opening keynote.

“Here in China, we’ve seen incredible progress since LLMs, were released. About 40 per cent of global LLMs are now developed in China, and I know China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are all working on developing AI models and services that can be sold to enterprises.”

Granryd was keen to point out that while AI is a huge opportunity, the mobile industry also has only one chance to get it right.

“Right now we are at a crossroads… we need to make sure we take the right path. The path where we pay attention to developing this technology ethically and where we leave no one behind.”

Closing China’s usage gap
Finally, the GSMA boss highlighted China’s efforts to reduce the mobile internet usage gap in recent years.

By next year 86% of China’s population will be fully covered and connected to mobile internet. Of course that means a significant number – 160 million – are still not using mobile internet (mostly the young and elderly).

“So we must keep working to make sure that we’re closing the usage gap and the coverage gap so that everyone has the chance to benefit,” stated Granryd. “As our world becomes more digital, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind.”