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China’s 4G Network Speeds Can’t Keep Up With Demand, MIIT Says

By He Shujing and Denise Jia / Jan 04, 2020 04:23 AM / Business & Tech

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China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) acknowledged that some parts of the country might experience a slowdown in 4G network speed because growth of user traffic is outpacing the network’s capacity to increase download speeds.

The comments were in response to user complaints of slow 4G internet connectivity while 5G cellphones and plans are still too expensive.

The MIIT said the country’s overall 4G network speed remains stable, but speed growth on a monthly basis has largely stalled, citing a third-party monitoring platform’s data.

A recent report by the Broadband Development Alliance shows China’s average 4G network download speed around the country was 22-24 megabits per second in the first three quarters of 2019, less than 3% faster than in the previous three-quarter period. The year-on-year speed increase slowed to 10% from more than 50% early 2018, the report shows.

One of the reasons for the slowdown is that traffic growth is outrunning network growth, the MIIT said. Total traffic increased more than 83% in the first 10 months of 2019, putting pressure on the 4G network, the ministry said.

In addition, network speed is also significantly affected by user aggregation. For example, the network speed usually slows during big concerts when large number of users are using data at the same time, the MIIT said.

The price war among mobile carriers has cause traffic to surge. Taking advantage of carriers’ unlimited data plans, more consumers now use their cell phones to watch videos, play games and shop online, making those in certain populated areas experience slower speeds.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com)

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