Ten million Chinese "reserved" 5G phones in the first two weeks of October, a powerful signal of high demand. Huawei thought they could all get phones in October. But the official figures are less than 1M 5G phones in October and ~5M in November.

WTF? It could be an ordinary problem of ramping supply of a new product. It could be the official figures on phone sales are lagging reality by several weeks. 

It might also be that millions aren't following up on their reservations. In October, most 5G phones cost $700-1200. In November, prices fell to $453. Xiaomi just announced a decent 5G phone for $285 (1999 yuan,) starting to ship in January. The Chinese press actively reported the price drop, although the initial supply has been limited. Smart buyers may just be waiting.

But it's also possible the 10M figure was not right. Contrary to Western reports, the major Chinese companies do not routinely lie about things like this. 

A few years back, the Chinese figures for FTTH were hard to believe. But I checked with the chipmakers, who confirmed China was buying that many chips for FTTH.

There's enormous pressure on the telcos to "accelerate" 5G, which was supposed to stay in trials until summer, 2020. They haven't provided any details of the second half of October or of November. Maybe something is in fact wrong.

The ten million figure is prominent in the raised projections for 5G subscribers and I hope it is accurate.


dave ask

@analysisbranch for latest updates


Welcome  Asia is installing hundreds of thousands of 5G radios and adding 5G subs by the tens of millions. The west is far behind. 200,000,000 in 2020

The demand is there, and most of the technology works. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

I'm Dave Burstein, Editor. I've been reporting telecom since 1999. I love to hear from readers and say thank you when you find an error. daveb@dslprime.com

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