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China Telecom claims over 100 million NB-IoT connections


China Telecom claimed to be the world’s largest carrier for NB-IoT, after the operator announced it has reached the 100 million connections milestone.

“After five years of extensive development, China Telecom has made breakthroughs in network coverage, user scale, platform services, chip modules, and industrial applications, demonstrating the role that NB-IoT has to play in forming the foundation for the digital economy,” the operator said.

China Telecom’s IoT services are chiefly used to support smart firefighting, security surveillance, urban facility management, smart homes, passenger car, charging device management and smart appliances.

The Chinese carrier also noted that it currently has 30 million NB-IoT smart gas and water users.

The Chinese state-owned telecommunication company had initially launched NB-IoT coverage in 2017 and has already deployed 400,000 base stations across China.

According to industry sources, rival operator China Mobile ended 2020 with 873 million IoT connections.

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, had previously announced plans to deploy 118,000 NB-IoT base stations across the country during 2020, taking the total to 350,000.

China Mobile had stopped adding new IoT connections to its 2G network as the telco accelerates the deployment of NB-IoT infrastructure across the country.

Last year, China Mobile had said it expected to migrate 2G IoT services to its NB-IoT and LTE-M networks, with the aim of shutting down its 2G network to free capacity for 4G and 5G services after re-farming the 900 MHz spectrum.

China Telecom added 6.54 million 5G subscribers in April to take its total 5G subscribers base to 117.77 million.

China Telecom’s overall mobile base amounted to 357.82 million subscribers at the end of the April, after adding 1.57 million customers during the month.

China ended the first quarter of the year with a total of 819,000 5G base stations, up from 771,000 5G sites at the end of 2020, according to a report published by Chinese paper Global Times.

For the full-year 2021, Chinese operators aim to install over 600,000 5G base stations, according to the report.

Earlier this year, Liu Liehong, vice minister of industry and information technology, had said that 5G Standalone networks covered all prefecture-level cities across China.

The ministry also estimated 5G mobile phone shipments in China would account for 80% of the total shipments in the second half of this year.

China is forecast to reach 739 million 5G subscribers by 2025, according to a recent study by ABI Research.

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