China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile operator and – having already completed its first phase of its national roll-out – it has just launched a new equipment tender for the country's second phase of 5G development.
During the second phase, China Mobile hopes to acquire over 232,000 5G base stations, and expand coverage to 28 regions across China. (Currently, the operator provides 5G coverage in 50 cities, but aims to have a total of 300,000 5G sites across China by the end of 2020.)
Despite these ambitious plans, the spread of coronavirus could have a negative impact on 5G deployment. With China Mobile VP Qin Jian admitting that the company was dedicated to pushing 5G this year, whilst accepting that the virus could slow it down.
A solid foundation
Thus far, China Mobile has selected Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE as providers of its 5G network equipment. And Huawei was the big winner, being awarded half of China Mobile’s 5G network equipment contracts.
China Mobile has already deployed 50,000 5G base stations across the country, but is also looking to save money, by leveraging 4G infrastructure to deploy its 5G network cost-effectively. And as China Mobile looks to get 5G into more remote locations, taking advantage of existing 4G infrastructure will be incredibly important, considering the vast expense of rolling out a new network from scratch.
Despite the task ahead, though, China Mobile has set itself a challenging timeframe, aiming to end 2020 with a whopping 70 million 5G users. This would be quite the feat, considering that many consumers still aren’t impressed with 5G, which is being marketed primarily on speed improvements.
However, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, 5G is still expected to create 8 million jobs in China by 2030. And the Academy is also forecasting that 28% of China’s mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025.