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China close to massive 5G base station target

China is close to hitting its target of rolling out a staggering 500,000 5G mobile base stations by the end of the year.

The country’s telcos have installed 480,000 5G sites, which equates to 96% of the target figure, the South China Morning Post reported, citing Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) director Wen Ku, speaking at a conference in Beijing recently.

Based on the first-half financials reported by China’s big three telcos last month, that suggests that the operators have together rolled out 82,000 5G base stations in the past two and a half months. With numbers like that, it is safe to assume that deploying the last 20,000 by year-end will not be too much of an ask.

As one might expect, China Mobile is responsible for the largest share of the build-out, having switched on 188,000 5G sites in 50-plus cities by the end of June. But the combined efforts of China Telecom and China Unicom are also making a big impact. The pair are involved in a shared 5G rollout initiative and have together deployed 210,000 5G base stations, including 150,000 in the first six months of the year. China Unicom said it was responsible for “more than 100,000” of the total, which would leave China Telecom having achieved a roughly similar sum.

As an aside, China Unicom recently said that the shared network project with China Telecom – dubbed ‘co-build, co-share’ has proved so successful that the pair have expanded it into 4G and other areas of their businesses, “in order to further improve resource utilisation efficiency.” That has to be a good idea when you’re dealing with a country the size of China.

China’s massive population makes it a compelling market to watch when it comes to 5G uptake.

The latest numbers – shared by MIIT minister Xiao Yaqing, again, as reported by the South China Morning Post, via the Xinhua News Agency – put 5G users in China at more than 60 million.

That’s a couple of tens of millions fewer than government figures suggested at the end of July, although admitted those stats referred specifically to 5G terminal connections, which could well mean something different.

Whichever way you look at it, there are a lot of 5G subscriptions in China already and the figure is set to grow, with telcos working hard to market the benefits the technology brings.

“While endorsing 5G network construction, we also put an increased focus on accelerating the promotion of 5G applications,” China Unicom reported in its 1H results presentation.

“In order to meet the needs of the mass market, we launched feature services such as ultra-high definition live broadcasts, cloud-based games and cloud VR solutions which are intended to be exciting and engaging, as well as providing the highest quality information and telecommunications services for our customers,” the telco said.

It looks like a ‘build it and they will come’ type of model. China’s telcos are certainly building it, and it would be unwise to bet against customer numbers growing significantly in the coming months.

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One comment

  1. Avatar Vui shing Lim 10/09/2020 @ 10:00 pm

    Go go China go.

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