MIIT awards 5G licences to three MNOs plus cable operator

6 Jun 2019

China’s telecoms authority the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has awarded commercial 5G licences to the country’s trio of mobile network operators (MNOs) – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – each of which is currently engaged in pre-commercial trials of the technology, as well as state-owned cable operator China Broadcasting Network (CBN), Xinhua News reports. The new technology is expected to generate CNY10.6 trillion (USD1.53 trillion) worth of economic output and create more than three million jobs between 2020 and 2025, according to a report earlier this year from the China Academy of Information Communications Technology (CAICT). In a nod to ongoing diplomatic clashes over the involvement of Chinese telecom vendor Huawei in the construction of 5G networks in other countries, the MIIT said that China welcomes domestic and international enterprises to participate in the ‘building, application and promotion of its 5G network and share the sector’s development dividends’.

Regarding the licensing of a fourth provider, China Daily quotes Wang Zhiqin, the head of China’s IMT2020 (5G) Promotion Group, as saying that licensing of CBN would help accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure, adding: ‘Granting four 5G licences is conducive to fostering rational competition and investment in the market’. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, CBN was established back in 2014 as part of Beijing’s ‘Three Network Convergence’ policy, which sought to merge telecom, television and internet services into a single network, with the company tasked with deploying cable infrastructure and unifying existing networks. In 2016 the company was awarded a basic telecom service licence. In November last year the company was given permission to roll out 5G networks; the company is understood to have not been granted any additional spectrum for the systems, however, indicating that it would use its existing holdings in the 700MHz band for the purpose.

The trio of MNOs, on the other hand, were granted trial 5G licences in December 2018, including additional spectrum: China Unicom was granted use of the 3500MHz-3600MHz band, Telecom was awarded spectrum in the 3400MHz-3500MHz range and China Mobile was given access to spectrum at 2515MHz-2675MHz and 4800MHz-4900MHz.