Thailand Premium Smartphone Market Grew 22% YoY in Q2 2022 Even as Overall Shipments Fell 17% YoY

  • Thailand’s smartphone shipments fell 17% YoY in Q2 2022 to 4.2 million units.
  • 5G volumes increased 20% YoY with OPPO and Samsung leading the segment.
  • Premium smartphone shipments (>$400) increased 22% YoY in Q2 2022.
  • Online channels made up 22% of shipments compared to 19% last year.

Jakarta, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – August 19, 2022

Thailand’s smartphone shipments fell 17% YoY in Q2 2022 due to continued volatility in the macroeconomic situation, according to Counterpoint’s latest Monthly Thailand Smartphone Channel Share Tracker. The macroeconomic turbulence has impacted Thailand more than its neighbors like Indonesia and Philippines, which is evident from the reduced consumer demand over the last two quarters. The inflation rate rose to 7.66% in June, the highest in 14 years. However, premium smartphone shipments (>$400) managed to buck the trend and grew 22% YoY in Q2 2022.

Q2 2022 Thailand Smartphone Shipment

Source: Counterpoint Monthly Thailand Smartphone Channel Share Tracker, Q2 2022

Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding

Discussing the factors that affected the shipments in Q2 2022, Senior Analyst Glen Cardoza said, “Thailand has a decent share of consumers who can maintain a good financial standing during this economic slowdown. It is this type of consumer who looks to purchase at least a mid-tier smartphone even in such an economic scenario. With food and related categories being hit the hardest by inflation, consumers who would consider buying a low-tier smartphone are not taking that decision right now. This has resulted in a 23% YoY drop in shipments for smartphones priced less than $250.”

Growth in Thailand Premium Segment smartphones, Q2 2022 vs Q2 2021

While low-tier smartphones are facing the macroeconomic heat, the higher tiers are balancing the demand in Thailand. Smartphones priced more than $400 have increased their sales substantially in the country over the last two years. In Q2 2022 itself, premium models of brands like Samsung, OPPO, vivo and realme saw an increased demand with every new launch in this category. Apple is always sought after in Thailand, but it has mostly covered the ultra-premium segment. Top Chinese brands have branched out from low- and mid-tiers to the higher price brackets, providing consumers with a much-needed variety in the post-COVID-19 economy. Gaming is another aspect that these brands are promoting better than Apple.

On the operators’ side, 5G smartphones are increasingly finding a place in their packages. Despite a YoY decline in overall shipments in Q2 2022, 5G volumes increased 20% YoY. Samsung and OPPO led this increase with their 5G models.

Operators like Dtac are offering free SIM cards to tourists entering the country as part of unlimited package deals. Dtac has also started trade-ins and e-waste collection at its locations. AIS and others are building a better broadband system with AI-powered smart routers especially targeted at consumers who work and learn online, along with the growing number of gaming aficionados in the country. All these developments are boosting smartphone appeal despite the tumultuous economic situation.

While the Thai Baht is at its weakest, there are factors that are helping the smartphone market to rebound:

  • Improving tourism
  • Increasing domestic production
  • Growing exports
  • Government initiatives to control inflation

The country’s commerce ministry has warned that price pressures will move into Q3 2022. But it is quite possible that the smartphone market will start seeing a recovery towards the end of Q3 2022 itself. The coming months should see an uptick in pent-up demand. The online share of smartphone shipments saw a YoY rise of around 3% in Q2 2022 to 22%. The coming months will see this share increasing due to focused online marketing by e-commerce players and OEMs. Q4 is likely to be the key quarter in Thailand’s smartphone market revival in 2022.

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Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Glen Cardoza

Follow Counterpoint Research

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Malaysia’s Smartphone, Telecom Ecosystem Looking for Much-needed Synergy

Malaysia’s smartphone market went through its seasonal dip in volumes in Q1 2022, but there were other factors at play as well. According to Counterpoint Research’s Southeast Asia Monthly Smartphone Tracker, not only did Malaysia’s smartphone shipments fall 9% QoQ in Q1 2022 but also dropped 27% YoY, which is notable. Apart from factors like supply constraints, COVID-19 resurgence and drop in tourism revenues, the decline can also be attributed to issues related to 5G spectrum allocation.

Malaysia Shipments and Influencing Factors

5G Conundrum

Malaysia is going through an extended negotiation phase in the telecom sector. The two sides here are the government and the four main operators in the Malaysian telecom landscape – Maxis BHD, Celcom Axiata BHD, Digi Telecommunications and U Mobile. These four operators have recently requested a review of the government’s 5G access offer as they want at least a 51% stake in the government-owned 5G agency DNB. They are also looking for a review of the access offer with regard to the pricing plan and network access plan offered by the government. Cost and transparency seem to be a concern here, while control and profit are at stake.

While the government and operators continue to re-pitch propositions and cement their stance on the government-run 5G model, other segments of the industry and consumers are making sure their interests are not affected. OEMs continue to launch 5G smartphones in a country where digital transformation is in full swing, with 28% of smartphone shipments in Q1 2022 coming from 5G-compatible models.

5G Status in Southeast Asia


With a 5% YoY GDP growth in Q1 2022, the country is riding high and promising to show further growth on account of high domestic demand, consistency in external demand and an improved labour market. While the retail industry and offline channels have opened, the manufacturing sector has grown in the first quarter as well. There would have been an added layer of excitement leading to higher achievements had the 5G situation not escalated over the past 18 months. Industrial propulsion is thus limited due to the absence of 5G use cases.

Covid Effect

The country was reeling under its worst COVID-19 resurgence in the second half of Q1 2022, which handicapped a big portion of the offline channel dynamics, leading to much lower shipments. However, April onwards, the country is seeing relaxation in curbs on not only domestic movement but also international travel policies. If supply constraints reduce, we may see much better Q2 and Q3 on account of pent-up demand.

Consumer Front

A big portion of the Malaysian smartphone-using population is tech-savvy. Many consumers have already transitioned to using e-commerce, e-banking, e-finance, digital and social marketing, and other platforms. There are several actively growing consumer sub-genres in the form of gamers, power users, consumers switching from feature phones, and more. At this point, there is a growing frustration as the people have access to 5G devices, they have the know-how and are motivated, but still can’t access 5G. The lack of 5G infrastructure and commercialization is limiting Malaysia’s growth potential in a very important sector — technology.

The Malaysian smartphone market is promising for the region and its consumer base is one of the most versatile with regard to technology. The 5G situation, however, needs to catch up with government and industry momentum. The coming months may see higher volumes for the smartphone market, but it will see an overall development only when 5G is commercialized.

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Impending Telecom Duopoly to Weigh on Thai Market Competition?

The merger between Thailand’s DTAC and True Corp is on track as the companies have secured approval from their respective boards. This will go on to create the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers. The merger now awaits regulatory approval.

Currently, there are three large players in the market – AIS, TrueMove and DTAC. The fourth operator – National Telecom (NT) – was formed in January 2021 after the merger of two state-owned telecom operators (CAT and TOT) and does not have any significant market share. One can say that the second round of consolidation has kicked in in the industry. If the DTAC-True merger is cleared by the regulator, it will shrink Thailand’s mobile landscape to a duopoly, with the new merged entity controlling more than 50% of the market.

Thailand’s Telecom Landscape

Thailand Telecom Landscape - Counterpoint Research

The merger would send ripples across the telecom ecosystem and networks would be impacted one way or the other. Some of these implications are as under:

Advantages of scale

A major objective of the merger is to scale the business size to drive investments and cost efficiencies, especially when it comes to 5G. True’s high debt level and DTAC’s limited 5G service offering make it challenging for the two to make technology advancements without any immediate returns. The merger will strengthen the position of the new entity with a higher market share, improving its ability to absorb costs and set up a stronger 5G infrastructure with pooled resources. This, in turn, will improve its ability to effectively take on the competition.

On the other hand, AIS has enhanced scale, financial strength and capabilities needed to accelerate growth and support network expansion. It is way ahead of its competitors with more than 44 million subscribers and benefits from economies of scale to achieve return on investments.

Expansion in spectrum portfolio

DTAC has been continuously losing subscribers amid intense competition, lack of 5G services and low network coverage owing to inferior spectrum holding. The merger will lead to True combining its 990MHz of spectrum holding with DTAC’s 270MHz, resulting in enormous spectrum availability of 1,260MHz with the new entity. This is a big value addition as large spectrum holding is the key to rolling out new services and improving capacity with the growing demand.

Operator Spectrum Portfolio Before and After Merger

Thailand Spectrum Portfolio - Counterpoint Research

Technology-driven growth opportunities

The new entity is seeking to raise $100-$200 million in venture capital for the proliferation of the digital ecosystem. The race for the advent of new technologies and services is likely to get a push from this merger. Operator will aim for 5G leadership and capturing enterprise opportunities with AI, cloud technology, connected devices, Industry 4.0 and more.

Wave of consolidation

The scenario can be compared with consolidation in various other markets of APAC. Higher 5G investment requirements and intense competition are the major reasons for several markets of the region to have three or just two major operators. For instance:

  • Indonesia: Indosat Oordeoo and CK Hutchison completed their merger in January 2022 and now the largest three players control more than 90% market share.
  • Malaysia: There are three major operators in the country. Axiata and Telenor are in advanced discussions to combine their Malaysian operations, i.e. Celcom and Digi. The merged entity will be the largest mobile operator with over 44% subscriber market share.
  • India: The Indian telecom market has seen significant consolidation, from a peak of 15 operators in 2012 to just three with a noteworthy presence in the last few years. But the market has a near duopoly as Airtel and Jio are leading the market, whereas Vodafone Idea is bleeding with inadequate investments and a high churn rate among subscribers. It may not come as a big shock if the market shrinks to two major players.

On the contrary, the Philippines had to move away from duopoly to inject much-needed competition. The regulator awarded the operator license to Dito Telecommunity as the country’s third operator since it became necessary to improve service provision and drive down prices. Dito launched mobile services in March 2021. Another entrant, NOW Telecom, secured the license in September 2020 but it is yet to launch commercial services.

Way ahead

Thailand has a highly developed mobile market that has seen strong growth of its 4G subscriber base. While mobile connectivity is upstanding, its quality has the capacity for further enhancement. According to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index, Thailand ranked 58th (out of 142 countries) with a median mobile download speed of 33.49Mbps in March 2022. It has better network performance compared to many Southeast Asian countries but is still behind Brunei (71.38Mbps), Singapore (67.99Mbps) and Vietnam (33.90Mbps). It is now navigating to 5G and the market will be driven by increasingly faster speeds at competitive tariffs.

The merger is in its final stages but it may face regulatory roadblocks over the fear of a narrow playing field. The new operator is expected to harness its combined resources to drive network performance. Further rollouts of its network to enhance quality and speed, along with investment in 5G technology, will be the key areas of development. Despite the endorsed benefits, long duration of the merger and any instability in the quality of services during the process can create an adverse impact on consumer sentiments. This, in turn, would be beneficial for AIS, with a likelihood of subscribers upgrading plans from LTE to 5G. Another market implication could be the rise in tariffs and vanilla service offerings amid reduced competition. Taking clues from the Philippines’ trajectory, the regulator needs to make a cautious decision on this merger and ensure the market does not go down the same road.


Related Reading

Thailand Smartphone Shipments Down 10% YoY in Q1 2022 on Sluggish Economy, Supply Constraints

Southeast Asia Smartphone Channel Share Tracker Presentation: Q1 2022

Southeast Asia Monthly Smartphone Channel Share Tracker: March 2022

Samsung Regains SEA Smartphone Top Spot With 23% Share

Hong Kong, London, Boston, Toronto, New Delhi, Beijing, Taipei, Seoul – December 8, 2021

Southeast Asia saw an 11% YoY dip in its smartphone shipments in Q3 2021, according to Counterpoint’s Global Smartphone Channel Share Tracker. With markets beginning to reopen towards the end of the third quarter, Samsung was able to increase its shipments by shifting products quickly from its manufacturing facilities in Vietnam to stakeholders further down the channel. But other OEMs found it tough to tackle the ongoing component shortages and, overall, both offline and online channels faced low supplies. All this helped Samsung recapture the top spot with a 23% share in the key SEA countries.

In Q3 2021, the region was hit hard by a fresh COVID-19 wave which led to a very restrictive economic environment. While the industrial sector was focused on production and technological advancements, consumers were hit hard by extended lockdowns and other restrictions, resulting in a reduced purchase of non-essential items.



Smartphone Shipments in Key Southeast Asian Markets Q3 2020 vs Q3 2021

Source: Counterpoint Research Southeast Asia Channel Share Tracker

Samsung’s A series performed well along with its more premium Galaxy S21 range and Flip 3 models. OPPO (19% share) and vivo (16% share) tried to sustain shipments despite the crunch. Xiaomi was among the OEMs which suffered a bit more than others. As Samsung and the Chinese giants battled for market supremacy, top OEMs continued to gain share even from the long-tail brands in these countries.

Top OEMs Market Share in Key Southeast Asian Countries Q3 2020 vs Q3 2021

Source: Counterpoint Research Southeast Asia Channel Share Tracker

Even as consumers were trying to acclimatize to the restrictive social and economic environment, there were changes in smartphone purchase dynamics as well. Commenting on the changing preferences in the region, Senior Analyst Glen Cardoza said, “The online and 5G portions of the shipments have been growing for some time now, but there are other factors shaping the SEA smartphone market as well. Shipment volumes are changing with respect to specifications like display size, display type, battery capacity and NAND capability. Our Southeast Asia Smartphone Channel Tracker has been highlighting these changing trends and more. These changes indicate a certain maturity in the region’s consumers’ buying behavior. Two factors are important here:

  1. Availability of higher-end features in mid-tier smartphones.
  2. Ongoing digital transformation, which is making the smartphone a much more essential commodity.”

While OEMs and telecom operators continue to target the market with products and promotions, the consumers’ buying sentiment will depend on macro-economic factors like the job market, disposable income levels, city migration and the restart of tourism. Q4 2021 is most likely to bring healthy volumes for the region’s countries. Consumers who have waited and curtailed their purchases will actively start buying again based on the offers available across channels.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Glen Cardoza

Follow Counterpoint Research

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Thailand Telecom: Key Implications of TRUE-Dtac Merger

AIS, TRUE and Dtac are Thailand’s three biggest telecom operators. With the merger of TRUE and Dtac, the new entity will be the No. 1 operator in terms of subscribers and revenue. While it will be ahead of AIS, the merged entity’s stance on 5G will decide its long-term growth trajectory.

A major objective for the merged behemoth will be to expand into new areas like AI, IoT and cloud computing. For this, it will have to focus on 5G expansion. As AIS is already the first mover in 5G, the merged entity is most likely to pool resources to set up a stronger 5G infrastructure for enterprises and consumers. But this will take time. Two major challenges for TRUE and Dtac here are:

  1. Dtac is yet to receive its 5G licence.
  2. TRUE’s high current debt.

AIS is way ahead of both its competitors on these aspects and it is quite likely that the 5G subscriber base will widen in favour of AIS in the next one year.

Impact on Thailand’s telecom sector

While the two telecom companies are set to merge with equal stakes, they will be running their operations independently till around the second quarter next year. These operations, however, will be run keeping the merger in mind. As both TRUE and Dtac have similar bases, this effort is expected to be comparatively easy. While a price war is unlikely, operators are most likely to step up their efforts to tap into any unsubscribed remainders in the country, especially in Tier 3 and Tier 4 geographies. Based on how the completion of the merger takes place and upcoming efforts from major competitors like AIS, the overall effect on the Thai telecom sector will most likely be felt in H2 2022.

The race for digital transformation, 5G supremacy and Industry 4.0 is likely to get a boost from this merger. Like Globe in the Philippines, which has asserted its dominance on 5G speed and ventured beyond the national borders, it is possible that the big three operators in Thailand will look to at least start with regional partners. It is more likely for AIS to do this faster than TRUE, Dtac or the merged entity. Current transitions in Thai telecom will last longer.

Government’s stance

The Thailand government’s policies on competition are strict. The merger’s potential of crossing the 50% market share mark could spell a complication for it. Both entities might relook at valuations and other specifics or consider making provisions to deal with it differently. Either way, the transition is not likely to go very smoothly. Time will be of the essence and any delays might translate to a shift in subscriber loyalties.

Impact on consumers

 Consumers in Thailand are among the most tech-savvy in the region. They are in a transition towards better networks, clearer signals, 5G smartphones and 5G packages. This is especially true for those residing in the metros and Tier 1 cities. Any inconsistencies in these upcoming trends might not go in favour of Dtac and TRUE. But AIS stands to gain here. Therefore, it is possible to see a certain proportion of subscribers shifting from TRUE and Dtac to AIS. Within those switching operators, an uptick in 5G subscriptions is possible as a fallout.

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Southeast Asia Perks Up, Boosts Smartphones

Southeast Asia (SEA) has been showing consistent economic promise for a while now. The changing landscape is giving the smartphone sector a much-needed boost as well. Four players have a pivotal role in this sector.

Initiatives from 4 major players are changing the ecosystem in Southeast Asia

While government support in key SEA countries has resulted in a faster rollout of 5G infrastructure, most governments are currently focused on COVID-19 vaccination and jump-starting the economy. In the parallel, Thailand continues to concentrate on advanced 5G utilization, while countries like Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam are focusing on solidifying their 5G infrastructure and increasing coverage.


The main operators in the key SEA countries are not only concentrating on increasing their 5G coverage but also making sure they sustain a healthy 4G network. Rural focus is helping them raise subscription levels as well. Their consistent tie-ups with OEMs are giving a push to bundled packages and 5G (especially in metros and Tier I cities). This will continue to increase at a YoY level, even after Q4 2021.

From merging telecom operators in Indonesia to industrial applications being pursued in Thailand, 5G connectivity is growing stronger in this region.

Even consumers who had not considered 5G during their most recent purchase of a smartphone, will consider it strongly in the future.


New 5G smartphone launches in the mid-tier price band have been all the rage in this region. The ASPs for these 5G phones will go down for upcoming models from top brands like realme. This will lead to an increase in upgrades.

Brands like OPPO, Xiaomi and realme are adding consumer IoT products, like smart speakers, to purchase deals which is good exposure for their IoT portfolio in these markets. For brands like Xiaomi, the IoT segment makes up 10% of total revenue in some markets.

As the markets open, brands are also increasing their offline footprint. Xiaomi is looking to increase its sales outlets from 38 to more than 100 within this year. The brand is also making sure its after-sales network is geographically widespread. Xiaomi and realme stand out here.


The “9.9” shopping festival saw some big investments and celebrity endorsements on online platforms like Shopee. Other big players across SEA, like Lazada and Tokopedia, also spent on marketing campaigns and tie-ups with brands, events and celebrities.

Online sales are one of the biggest reasons for consumers to indulge in shopping towards the end of the year.

Whether it is ‘live shopping’ on Tokopedia or increasing Korean influence with music groups like BTS, consumers can relate to this association. The main SEA economies may see their highest ever online smartphone shipments in Q4 2021. With COVID-19 infection rates going down in most SEA countries, the only deterrent here is component shortages affecting supply.


Q3 2021 saw governments in Indonesia and Vietnam giving emphasis to essential items. As infection rates went down in August and September, vaccination for the manufacturing sector was given priority. Starting September, most production facilities in Vietnam resumed normal operations and scaled up to make provisions for Q4 demand.

All the above factors play in favor of a very productive and lucrative smartphone season in Q4 2021. All key SEA countries are likely to show more than 20% growth over Q3 2021 and a healthy YoY increase as well. Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines will show a higher online share in smartphone shipments.

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Global IoT Cellular Connections to Cross 5 Billion Mark by 2025, NB-IoT to contribute nearly half

Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, Beijing, London, Buenos Aires, San Diego

Sep 26th, 2018

China will continue to lead by contributing almost two-thirds of the global IoT Cellular Connections. Whereas, Vodafone will continue to be the largest operator elsewhere globally if we exclude China and Chinese operators.


According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s IoT (Internet of Things) service, Global IoT Cellular Connection grew 72 % in 1H18, a considerable increase from the same period last year.

Commenting on the future growth of connected IoT devices, Counterpoint Research Analyst, Satyajit Sinha, noted, “Smart manufacturing, smart utilities and smart mobility applications such as automotive, asset tracking will be the key growth drivers over the next five to seven years. Many of these applications will demand low-power, low-bandwidth, low-cost and ubiquitous cellular connectivity which will be initially satisfied by the emerging Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) cellular technologies like LTE-M, NB-IoT, and EC-GSM-IoT. Further, futuristic applications such as autonomous cars, drones, connected healthcare, and mission-critical IoT applications will be powered by the upcoming 5G technology revolution which promises massive capacities, throughputs, and lower latencies.”

Mr. Sinha, further added, “Emerging markets like India, Brazil and in Africa while can offer tremendous scale but will likely be late followers compared to China in this path to connected everything. However, the massive growth opportunity remains in terms of cellular-IoT connections in emerging markets which will be possibly catalysed by operators such as Jio in India but more specifically from multi-market players such as Telefonica or MTN or Vodafone with plans to deploy LPWAN networks such as NB-IoT leveraging scale across their coverage markets.”

Adding his perspective, Research Director, Peter Richardson, noted, “Most of the IoT connections are still on 2G/2.5G networks. However, the shift to 4G LTE and cellular-LPWAN is already in motion and we expect an ongoing shift to these newer technologies in 2H 2018 and 2019.”

Mr Richardson, also added, “While cellular-LPWAN brings a number of advantages over unlicensed LPWA solutions – there are a number of use cases where unlicensed technologies offer a superior mix of cost and functionality. Over the short to medium term, we expect co-existence and even the combined use of both licensed and unlicensed LPWA technologies.”

Exhibit 1: Global Cellular IoT Cellular Connection market share in 1H 2018 vs 2025

Source: Counterpoint Research: 2010-2025 Global IoT Cellular Connection Tracker

Highlighting the latest trends in IoT connectivity strategies, Research Director, Neil Shah added, “Revenue generation from the IoT ecosystem is not siloed to any one specific segment of the value chain, rather it is distributed among all segments. On an average for a cellular IoT solution deployment, connectivity represents around 12%, whereas hardware components, modules and devices represent 22%. The rest of the bulk of the value in an IoT solution is captured by system integrators, middleware, software platforms, and cloud analytics vendors. Hence, if operators are looking to capture maximum value, the strategies need to provide an end-to-end IoT solutions by bundling IoT devices, secure connectivity, platform, and data management to capitalize on the overall opportunity.

Some bigger operators have already chosen specific IoT solutions and verticals to offer a comprehensive IoT solution, but it won’t be practical for the operator to offer similar end-to-end solutions across every vertical and hence partnerships across the IoT value chain will be the key to capture value.”

Mr Sinha, though highlighted, “Consumer IoT is still largely an untapped opportunity for cellular operators and probably the toughest one. This is partly due to device and connectivity costs and, to some degree, due to data privacy & security concerns. The continuous growth in security and data privacy policies, such as GDPR, will help and grow consumer confidence. We expect cellular consumer IoT will form an important revenue stream for operators starting with smart home and wearables to be top IoT applications by 2025.”

Exhibit 2: Global IoT Cellular Connection by Technology Market Share in 1H 2018 vs 2025


Source: Counterpoint Research: 2010-2025 Global IoT Cellular Connection Tracker

IoT Connectivity by Technology Market Analysis – By-2025

  • 2G IoT connections will occupy less than 1% of global IoT cellular connections by 2025; increasingly being replaced by NB-IoT.
  • 3G IoT connections face the same fate as 2G. However, 3G will go extinct much faster than 2G.
  • 4G LTE IoT connections (high bandwidth & low latency) will grow at a much faster rate till 2022 due to global adoption of LTE Advanced and Advanced Pro. However, post-2022 we expect a smooth transition from 4G LTE family to 5G. 4G LTE IoT connections will hold slightly more than a third of global IoT cellular connections in 2025.
  • LTE-M Connection will have a presence until 2022. However, we expect its growth to be limited as both NB-IoT and unlicensed LPWA will take away its opportunity and share. LTE-M connections will be around 6% of global IoT cellular connections in 2025.
  • NB-IoT will dominate the market with 45% of global IoT cellular connections, due to the wide variety of application opportunities and faster adoption rates in the overall ecosystem.
  • 5G will be crucial for some sectors, for example automotive, especially for V2V and V2X. The adoption of 5G cellular will depend on the availability, cost of modems from companies like Qualcomm and Huawei as well as coverage area. We expect 5G to account for around 10% of global IoT cellular connections in 2025.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

 Satyajit Sinha


 Peter Richardson
+44 20 3239 6411


Neil Shah
+91 9930218469


 Counterpoint Research


China Mobile Global Partnership Event 2017: A Big Push Towards the IoT and 4G+ Era

China Mobile, the undisputed No. 1 mobile operator in China and around the world in terms of user base, hosted the annual global partnership event from 23-27 Nov in Guangzhou. The event, organized by China Mobile, is a grand stage for both China Mobile and its local and international partners to showcase the latest technological achievement and demonstrate their development blueprint in China and around the globe. Popular buzz words of the event this year were “IoT”, 5G” and “4G+ Devices”.

During the event China Mobile revealed the group’s achievement in 2017, and highlighted its strategy for 2018 focused towards IoT and 4G+ era. Key insights from the event that could represent upcoming trends and stimulate growth in China’s telecom and mobile market were:

China Mobile Key Achievements in 2017:

  • As of today, China Mobile has established 3.23 million mobile base stations, among which 1.79 million are 4G base stations, covering 12 million kilometers of transmission cables.
  • China Mobile has been serving over 1 billion users worldwide, which includes 880 million mobile users, 100 million household users and 6 million enterprise users. 4G users (600 million) make up for over 70% of the total mobile users with an average data consumption of 2GB/user/month.
  • The No. of IoT connection on the China Mobile platform has reached over 200 million;

In 2018, China Mobile will implement the “1+3+9” strategy as its key principle for development activities:

1 Network”:

  • China Mobile will establish a cutting-edge and wide-coverage mobile IoT network in the coming year to fulfill the demand for NB-IoT connections in 346 domestic cities.
  • Having reached over 200 million IoT connections in 2017, China Mobile is targeting another 120 million connections so as to achieve a total number of 320 million by 2018 (read more on Why China is Leading the Development of NB IoT Globally).
  • Under this target the company will not only take the lead lead to improve the network infrastructure for IoT connectivity, but also boost commercial application by lowering market price of IoT modules. China Mobile has promised to offer CYN 1 billion (or US$150 million) subsidy for NB IoT module providers and another CYN 1 billion (or US$150 million) subsidy for 4G IoT module makers. The subsidy benefit is expected to bring down the average sales price of NB IoT modules (currently around US$9) in China to under US$4 by 2018, which will bring the cost of NB IoT modules similar to or even lower than that of GSM modules. We can see that China Mobile, as part of its strategy, has prioritized the development of IoT.
Source: from China Mobile Global Partnership Event 2017, where China Mobile showcased over 10 general NB IoT module products.

“3 Industrial alliances”:

  • China Mobile will focus on cooperation with partners from three of its well-established platforms, namely IoT Alliance, Digital Family Alliance and 5G Innovation Center, to drive the technological revolution in China to better serve its worldwide customers.
  • China Mobile has been moving aggressively in the development of 5G network with five 5G labs set up for R&D and testing activities. After China has finished the second phase of 5G tests in September this year, telecom operators and related industrial partners (Huawei, ZTE, DT Mobile and etc) are preparing for the third phase test at the end of the year, targeting successful pre-commercial application. Moving ahead, China Mobile 5G Innovation Center plans to conduct commercial trials of 5G in the city of Chongqing in 2019, and achieve nationwide commercial application by 2020.

“9 Applications”:

  • Nine Applications will be launched in  the  China Mobile online store, including communication service, unified certification, OneNET device management platform, Andlink family intelligent connection, mobile credit, mobile payment, “Video+”, “One Click” connection to E-commerce platforms and Smart voice cloud computing, to create an open ecosystem for both consumer and enterprise customers for better connectivity and management of data.

The “1+3+9” strategy indicates China Mobile’s determination to seize the opportunity in the upcoming IoT and 5G era, to transform from a traditional network provider into an open ecosystem provider covering cloud, network tunnel and terminals. In light of internet giants i.e. Facebook, Google and Microsoft investing in building their own network infrastructure to abate the reliability on telecom operators, it’s essential for operators like China Mobile to leverage its infrastructure assets, financial power and massive data resources, to get through the fading edge of traditional services, and create new sustainable business & profit models.

Device strategy towards 4G+ Era

China Mobile announced as of Nov 2017 that over 400 million units of 4G mobile phones sold were supported by its network, occupying 80% of total 4G phones annually sold in China (500 million). The giant targets another 400 million to be sold through its network in 2018.

Already serving 600 million 4G users in 2017 and expecting to acquire another 100 million in 2018, CMDC (China Mobile Device Company Limited), the group’s subsidiary for device business, announced the company’s strategy to better serve its users by driving the development of 4G+ era in 2018, led by three directives:

1. Upgrade of network speed to satisfy 4G+ requirements: China Mobile requires all newly launched 4G+ models developed by its smartphone partners to be able to support CA (Carrier Aggregation) and HOM (Higher-order mmodulation) technologies in 2018:

2. Promotion of smart service Package to build a 4G+ platform: China Mobile will upgrade its mobile services in 2018 to enhance user experience, by promoting “4G+ smart services package” which includes a rich array of its self -developed mobile APPs under “and和” brand e.g. Native RCS (Rich Communication Service) (和飞信), 139 Corporate Email(139邮箱), Migu Video(咪咕视频), Cloud platform(和彩云,) etc.

China Mobile encourages its smartphone partners to pre-install and jointly promote its “4G+ service package” by offering both financial and data subsidy. All smartphone models cooperating with China Mobile will be scored and categorized into three grades with specific benefits and liabilities as below:

Additionally, as return for “Strategic” and “Deep” cooperation partners, China Mobile will offer their users an extra 20GB of data, monthly for 6 consecutive months for free, when they surf APPs under its own brand “and 和”

To support China Mobile’s initiative for the 4G+ era, senior management from major local and international smartphone OEMs were present at the device forum of China Mobile Global Partnership event and together signed a cooperation agreement. Samsung Galaxy S8 got the best exposure as the first prioritized partner for the 4G+ plan. It could be a great opportunity for Samsung to re-gain its share in the Chinese market after it has dropped out of the tier-1 vendor list in 2017.

3. Improving Voice Communication Quality: China Mobile will upgrade voice services from VoLTE to EVS to enhance communication quality in weak signal areas. Therefore, the group requires all its 4G+ partners to support EVS-WB from March 2018.

In brief, China Mobile is very ambitious to drive the evolution of 5G, IoT and smart devices in terms of both technology and commercial application. With the telecom giant’s determination and capability to deliver real efforts with its partners, we have every reason to predict a smart nation with IoT application and 4G+ connectivity achieved in China in 2018, and trillion dollars of new opportunities in both consumer and enterprise markets.

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