China, the world’s largest mobile subscriber base, had a total of 1.3 billion subscribers in 2016, 64 percent of them on China Mobile’s GSM/TD-SCDMA/LTE network. Fifty-eight percent of China’s mobile subscribers are now on LTE, up from 32 percent in 2015.

In 2016, a network sharing deal between China Unicom and China Telecom drove LTE capex down 16 percent year-over-year. However, the combination of both companies’ addition of FD-LTE (frequency division LTE) eNodeBs and China Mobile’s moderate TD-LTE (time division LTE) rollouts led to a combined total of 1,020,000 eNodeBs deployed—the same number as in 2015. 

The overall 2G/3G/LTE mobile infrastructure market came to USD 12 billion in 2016, falling 9 percent year-over-year at a time when China Unicom and China Telecom were building their nationwide FD-LTE rollout. 

LTE revenue declined to about USD 10 billion (-4 percent year-over-year) in 2016, sustained by flat eNodeB rollouts, and leaving combined 2G and 3G revenue at less than USD 2 billion.

We expect the mobile infrastructure macro hardware market in China to continue to go south, with a double-digit decline anticipated in 2017 due to the end of massive LTE rollouts. In the long run, we forecast the Chinese RAN and packet core infrastructure market to slow down further to USD 2 billion in 2021, a -34 percent 2016–2021 CAGR. - IHS