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5G Funny Numbers: 10M Sign on October, Only 5M Phones in November

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 recently 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 that 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.

By Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime

Dave Burstein has edited DSL Prime and written about broadband and Internet TV for a decade.

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