June 2020 H1 5G subscribers 86M (84M-92M)

China had ~65 million 5G phones, Korea 7.5 million, the U.S. 5-6 million, and the rest of the world perhaps 4 million. Only China and Korea provide official figures. Update August 11 China 5G phones 14M, down 3M from June. M Science has a U.S. figure about 1M less than the SA figure used here.

On July 27, Ken Hyers of Strategy Analytics emailed me that Q2 5G phone sales in the US were ~2.7 million, down from 3.4 million in Q1. The total of 6.1 million phones sets a cap on the U.S. 5G, with a certain number in store inventory and transit. With firm figures for the three largest deployments, the uncertainty in the figures has become less than in my July 22 writeup.

I have to estimate/guess the numbers in the rest of the world. None of the European or southeast Asian carriers has released figures. I infer the number is quite low.

With decent phones selling for US$230 and the price going down, China will almost certainly meet the yearend 150 million plan. Verizon and others expect a big boost from the iPhone 5G, so I’m confident in my 210 million year-end figure. That estimate and 65 pages more of analysis is at http://analysisbranch.com/2020/06/19/5g-the-facts-and-the-future/

I believe it’s important to “show your work” That’s crucial in 5G in 2020 because the most widely reported figures for Q1 almost certainly are 40-50% too high. The Chinese carriers are reporting about 115 million “5G contracts” but only about 70 million 5G phones have shipped in China.

5G performance is highly disappointing. While Korea claims over 90% coverage, Open Signal only connected to 5G 1 in 6 tries. 5G #fail. 85% no 5G in “90% covered” Korea I believe, but haven’t confirmed, that the problem is that mid-band struggles getting indoors. Low-band speeds are often slower than 4G, especially at lower frequencies. See Finally, Data: US 5G slower than Canada’s 4G. Believe it

Latency is about the same as decent 4G. Verizon claims 30 ms. 1 ms latency is a fantasy outside the lab. Essentially none of the highly touted “use cases” and “new apps” have appreciable takeups.

5G is selling far above almost all predictions except mine because the phone price in China is little more than 4G. Decent phones go for US$230-260 in China, with prices falling there and everywhere else. Tens of millions of people have decided to pay the small premium for a phone that won’t be obsolete as soon. I would.

I have only indirect data on most of the world. If you want to be accurate, please think of the range of 84 million to 92 million rather than the 86 million headline figure. In the next few weeks, I expect the phone-makers to report counts, which will allow me to firm up these estimates.

I’m including a figure of 4 million 5G routers and pucks. Unfortunately, I can find no primary data. The 4 million is a guess. I have not tried to divide them by country. Data extremely welcome.

An analyst firm put out a 63 million figure for Q1, almost certainly a mistake but frequently repeated. The highest plausible estimate of 5G phone sales in 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 is 45 million and it is probably a lower than that. (Strategy Analytics reports 24 million for Q1 2020)

I’ve urged them to put out a correction and am not naming them here.

“I make many mistakes,” the Butler said. I’m sure I have some, although I’ve done a great deal of research, daveb@dslprime.com I’ll issue a correction ASAP.

China: ~65 million.
China’s telcos are reporting ~115 million “5G contracts” but an authoritative government source (CAICT) reports only 64 million 5G phones shipped. Since 4G and 5G contracts are the same price, I assume the telcos are persuading many 4G customers to sign up for a “5G contract.” China doesn’t need to overstate the numbers; even the lower figure is three times as many as the rest of the world.
Over 410,000 base stations have been upgraded and 15,000 more are being done each week. China Mobile expects a total of 600,000 5G cells yearend, covering about 700,000,000 people. All is mid-band.
17 million 5G phones shipped in June, many selling for US$230-260. 30-gigabyte service costs $13-18/month. China is on track to easily meet the 150 million year-end target. Counterpoint reports 60% of 5G phones in June were Huawei, which has shipped over 20 million 5G phones in China and probably over 30 million worldwide.
Unofficial sources claim July is far ahead of June.

Korea: ~7.5 million
Korea reported 6.9 million 5G subs at the end of May. The previous few months were between 500,000 and 600,000, so 7.5 million is a sensible figure for the end of June. All are mid-band, mostly 100-400 Mbps down. Open Signal data implies the indoor coverage is terrible. See 5G #fail. 85% no 5G in “90% covered” Korea

U.S.A. 5-6 million.
US 5G coverage is awful, so I was surprised when Strategy Analytics reported Samsung sold over 3 million expensive 5G phones in Q1. Most probably were sold by Verizon, despite Verizon customers only connecting to 5G 0.4% of the time. I infer that high-end Samsung buyers are spending more for a phone that will not be obsolete in a year or 2. CEO Hans Vestberg has said people are buying 5G phones even where Verizon does not have 5G coverage.
So far, almost all AT&T & T-Mobile has been the ridiculous “low-band 5G,” actually slower than much 4G. See Finally, Data: US 5G slower than Canada’s 4G. Believe it The companies are making it nearly impossible to separate the 5G at 4G speeds” from other 5G. I will exclude them if I can. Any reporter or analyst who doesn’t try to make the distinction should point out that much “5G” is slower than much “4G.”

Europe ?2 million
No European carrier has enough 5G customers to release a figure. I infer from that and the limited availability that there are few actual subscribers. More data welcome.

Gulf ? 1 million
The UAE, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have some of the most extensive deployments of 5G. There is little or no public data on the number of subscribers.

Japan ? 0.3 million
3 carriers are deploying, with NTT DOCOMO shooting for 1 million early next year.

South and Southeast Asia ?0.3 million
Viettel and almost all the Southeast Asian countries are just starting to deploy. Jio in India is ready to move rapidly when the government approves. Look for very rapid growth in India in 2022 and possibly earlier. The projections of 18 million in 2024 are far too low.

Australia ?0.2 million
Lots of pr, little data

Latin America ?0.1 million
Almost all talk so far. I’m talking with a Brazilian with ambitious plans for a year or two from now.

Africa ? 0.1 million
MTN in South Africa has recently deployed mid-band, but few subscribers so far.

Canada ? 0.1 million
Just getting started

Russia, most of Latin America, and almost all of Africa have little more than pr.


July 28 Added 4 million 5G fixed wireless routers and pucks, as suggested by Daryl Schoolar of Omdia. I also added the July reports.

August 3 NTT DOCOMO reached 149K 5G ** Far EasTone in Taiwan “tens of thousands.” ** Ooredoo Qatar 200,000, more than anyone claims in Europe.

For estimates of year-end 2020 and through 2025, http://analysisbranch.com/2020/06/19/5g-the-facts-and-the-future/

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