Today, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued 5G commercial licenses to four major Chinese operators which include China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Radio and Television. The license of China Radio and Television was questioned by many but China Radio and Television have already obtained basic telecommunications business licenses as early as 2016, which means that China Radio and Television has become the fourth largest telecommunications operator after China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.
Recall that the Chinese 5G licenses were expected sometime in October this year. However, with the issuance of the 5G license, China is now ahead of schedule and equipment providers are ready to get to work. The likes of Huawei, ZTE, and Ericsson will be gearing up to roll out thousands of 5G base stations. In fact, ZTE stated that if the licenses are ready, it is ready to get to work.
On December 10 last year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology officially issued 5G medium and low-frequency test frequency licenses to China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom. China Telecom and China Unicom obtained the test frequency license for the 3500MHz frequency band. China Mobile obtained the test frequency for 2600MHz and 4900MHz frequency bands.
In comparison, China Unicom and Telecom have the most mature test frequency and will have more terminal support in the early stage, while China Mobile needs to spend more time to cultivate the industry chain. China Mobile plans to complete 3-5 thousand 5G base station construction in 2019. China Telecom and Unicom 5G base station construction plan for 2019 is 20,000 each.
China Unicom already has over 100 5G base stations in conjunction with FTZ (Free Trade Zone) in Shenzhen. However, with the recent development, we will probably have hundreds of base stations in the coming weeks. Chinese cities like Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Zhenzhou and Shenyang have had a feel of 5G network on a trial basis from China Unicom. However, since 5G devices are barely available, it’s hard to say if anyone apart from the company had the chance to test this network.