China Mobile has clocked up 3.8 million 5G users and has set a target of 100 million by the end of the year.
The Chinese giant is also aiming to go fully standalone 5G by the fourth quarter, says vice president and CFO Dong Xin.
Speaking at China Mobile's annual pre-Lunar New Year press event, Dong said the operator this year would focus on its goal of "building an advanced, high-quality 5G network that covers the whole country."
He said China Mobile would "accelerate the transition" to standalone 5G with the aim of completing a commercial standalone network by the fourth quarter, the MIIT newspaper, Post & Telecom News, reported.
According to MIIT data released last week, China Mobile had sold 3.02 million 5G packages and activated 3.8 million services, accounting for 69% of China's 5G market.
The three Chinese operators all launched 5G on November 1. China Mobile's prices ranged from 128 Chinese yuan (US$18) for 30 gigabytes and 500 minutes talk time to RMB598 ($86) for 300 gigabytes and 3,000 minutes.
The target of 100 million is an ambitious one, despite the low prices. It registered just 21.5 million net adds in the first 11 months of 2019 and 37.9 million for the whole of 2018.
China Mobile reported 946.55 million mobile customers at November 30, of which 753.03 million were 4G customers.
As well as racking up new subs, the telco expects to ship a lot of 5G devices this year. According to its 2020 Terminal Product Plan, it's forecasting sales of more than 150 million 5G phones, aided by an expected price decline to between RMB1,000 and RMB1,500 (between $145 and $218) in the fourth quarter.
MIIT research arm CAICT says 13.77 million 5G phones were sold in China over the last two months of 2019, with 35 models available. For the full year, 389 million devices –- mostly 4G -- shipped.
Last year China Mobile, the world's largest telco by customer numbers, invested RMB24 billion ($3.5 billion) in 5G networks and deployed 50,000 basestations in 50 cities.
It has said it will invest "hundreds of billions of yuan" in building out its cloud business, including a "5G network-as-a-service’ offering. (See China Mobile Goes Big on 5G Cloud.)
The operator is targeting 14 key verticals in its 5G cloud and IoT business, including manufacturing, energy and transportation. It says that with partners it has already created 100 5G applications.
— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading