For several months, I've been reporting that the 5G "subscriptions" at Chinese telcos added up to much more than the total of 5G phones. China Unicom has now confirmed that they are counting as "5G" many people who are using 4G gear.
The discrepancy should narrow because half a dozen decent 5G phones cost between US$197 & $280. The monthly cost for a 30-gigabyte service at China Unicom just fell 30% to 88 yuan, about US$13.
China Mobile claimed 55,000,000 "5G packages" at the end of May. China Telecom has more than 20,000,000 and China Unicom won't say. The number of actual 5G users end of May was probably ~50,000,000 among the three carriers. MIIT released a figure of 36,000,000 for the end of April and 15,000,000 5G phones shipped in May. Even the reduced Chinese figures are twice the total in the rest of the world.
China's 5G lead remains enormous. China Mobile at the end of May had 140,000 5G bases. China Unicom and Telecom are sharing 130,000. They are building over 10,000 per week. That is far more than twice the total 5G sites in the West.
MIIT has restored the original goal of 600,000 in 2020 and expects 180,000,000 phones to ship. China Mobile and the China Telecom/China Unicom team will each do 300,000, with China Broadcast likely to add more by the end of 2020..