China’s 5G rollout may begin this week

Anyone expecting China’s 5G rollout plans to be slowed or delayed may be in for a surprise as soon as the end of this week. According to the Shanghai Securities News (i.e. the government), the country’s first 5G wireless data plans could be imminently on sale, as licenses are expected to start being issued to the three big carriers this week.

Which one of China Mobile, China Telecom or China Unicom goes first is unclear. It had previously been expected that licenses would only be issued by early October, but this had been brought forward, the news site reported.

Most of China’s administrative regions have successfully completed their first 5G phone calls, not to mention usage of other 5G-enabled devices such as buses and subway trains. There are more than 530,000 base stations in use nationwide, official data show. The Greater Bay Area has been one of the key centers for testing of these, especially in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, where 14,000 base stations were installed late last year. China’s three biggest phone operators are expected to roll out 5G services on a large scale after obtaining the necessary permits from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The ministry had said only yesterday on its website that such permits would be issued “in the near future”. However, the ministry also set the cat among the pigeons (see next item) by stating that foreign companies, including Nokia, Ericsson, Intel and Qualcomm, had been deeply involved in the technical trial phase. This had led to widespread speculation that the US blacklist of suppliers to Huawei would jeopardize or delay China’s rollout plans, because these suppliers would not likely be replaced easily or soon.

Perhaps China doesn’t roll the same way as expected of other countries adopting 5G?

Read more (in Chinese).

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