The past year has seen massive growth for mobile broadband – 3G and 4G subscriptions – in China, according to new data released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The country now has 1.29 billion total mobile users, and as of April 49.9 percent of them have mobile broadband services. That number has grown massively over the past year:
In 2015 alone, mobile broadband subscribers have increased by more than 61 million, but as the needle ticks nearer to 50 percent, there are signs that growth is slowing, with April 2015 having been the slowest month for growth of the past year. Still, as of this writing in mid-May, it’s likely that China has already hit 50 percent mobile broadband penetration, meaning that some 650 million Chinese are accessing the web at high speeds via their mobile phones.
This news comes amidst growing complaints about the costs of mobile broadband access in China. Chinese premier Li Keqiang has repeatedly asked telecoms to cut their subscription rates, but the most recent round of cuts has left subscribers unimpressed. Mobile data rates are far lower in China than in developed countries like the United States, but as the standard of living in China is also lower, high data rates can be an even bigger burden on Chinese mobile subscribers.