SHANGHAI -- Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2016 -- Barcelona's MWC event is still the mother of all mobile trade shows but its Asia-Pacific sibling makes for an interesting alternative, providing a flavor of what's at the top of the list in China, the world's largest single market.
As a reminder of just how big a market we're talking about, here are some statistics (as of the end of May 2016): Between them, the country's three main operators have 1.3 billion mobile connections, of which 562 million are 4G connections. (See China Mobile Touts 409M 4G Subs.)
Table 1: China's Key Subscriber Numbers May 2016
|Connections as of May 2016||Mobile inc. 4G||4G only||Fixed broadband|
|China Mobile||835 million||409 million||63 million|
|China Telecom||206 million||85 million||117 million|
|China Unicom||260 million||68 million||74 million|
|Total||1,301 million||562 million||254 million|
|Source: Operator-published monthly statistics|
These are astonishing numbers: China has more 4G connections than there are people in the whole of North America (US, Canada and Mexico combined, which is about 490 million currently according to United Nations estimates).
So, all in all, it's worth keeping an eye on what's trending in China, even if the market does tend to go down some fairly idiosyncratic technology trails when a major shift in the market rears its head (take TD-SCDMA for 4G as an example).
As we noted previously, there was a big focus on what's coming next on the show floor and during the conference sessions at MWCS, with 5G, virtual reality and telco transformation strategies standing out as key themes:
- 5G, Virtual Reality Dominate MWCS Action
- China Mobile Stamps Intentions on 5G
- China's MIIT Outlines 4-Point Plan to Drive Innovation
- China Telecom: Future of Telecom Is 'Human-Machine Intelligence'
- NTT DoCoMo CEO Hails Partnership Approach
You'll see those themes in the following pictures, which reflect the trends but don't show how busy the event was as I took these pictures shortly after the show opened on its first day: In total, the event attracted about 53,000 attendees, according to the GSM Association (GSMA) , which organizes the event.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading