China grants bandwidth to fourth 5G operator

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5g networks china broadcasting network telecommunications
5G sign inside a shopping mall on Sept. 28, 2019, in Beijing. (Image credit: TechNode/Coco Gao)

China’s top telecommunications regulator has given the green light to another state-owned enterprise to operate 5G networks, making it the country’s fourth provider of next-generation wireless services.

Why it matters: While the entrance of China Broadcasting Network breaks a monopoly held by the country’s three major carriers—China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom—it lacks infrastructure and experience, and is seen as unlikely to provide reliable 5G services.

  • The company, which is fully owned by the Chinese government’s State Council, said its hurdles include “no talent, no funds, and no network” (our translation) as it prepares to build up its own 5G network, according to Guangzhou Daily (in Chinese), citing company documents.

Details: The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said it had assigned a 5G bandwidth in the 4.9 GHz frequency band to China Broadcasting Network and allowed it to deploy the service in 16 cities, according to a statement (in Chinese) published on the ministry’s website on Jan. 3.

  • The national cable television behemoth said in the initial phase of development, it plans to invest RMB 2.5 billion (around $359 million) to provide 5G services in 16 cities across China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, according to the documents.
  • Experts believe (in Chinese) the company will partner with China’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, to jointly build 5G network infrastructure because the two companies were assigned bandwidths within the same range.
  • China Mobile was designated to use spectrum in the 2.6 GHz to 4.9 GHz ranges for its nationwide 5G network.

Context: Founded in 2014, China Broadcasting Network was issued a license to provide basic telecommunications services in the country in May 2016. However, the company failed to become a household name and major wireless player like its three competitors.

  • The MIIT granted licenses in June to the company and the other three carriers to provide commercial 5G services.
  • In September, China Unicom and China Telecom announced plans to jointly build their next-generation networks.