China Mobile and CBN finalise collaboration agreements

27 Jan 2021

China Mobile, China’s largest mobile provider by subscribers, and 5G licensee China Broadcasting Network (CBN, also known as China Radio and Television), have built upon the collaborative framework agreement that the pair signed in May last year regarding 5G network co-construction and sharing with the inking of a series of ‘specific collaboration agreements’. The deals comprise four new agreements, each of which last until 31 December 2031 and separated into two phases with Phase One ending on 31 December 2021, and Phase Two spanning 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2031. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the two companies had inked a co-construction agreement that would enable China Mobile utilise the 700MHz spectrum for 5G services whilst CBN would benefit from an accelerated rollout and entry into the market by using Mobile’s existing networks. The new agreements are as follows.

The 5G Network Co-construction and Sharing Collaboration Agreement, under which the two companies will jointly construct the 700MHz network, will comprise investment in the establishment, expansion of capacity as well as upgrade and renovation of the 700MHz network at a ratio of 1:1. The network will be owned by both companies as an indivisible integral asset at a ratio of 1:1, and China Mobile and CBN will both have the right to fully use the 700MHz network to provide services to their respective customers. China Mobile will provide CBN with a transmission carrier network linking between 700MHz 5G base stations and CBN’s connection points in prefecture-level cities or provincial centres for use on a paid basis. The 700MHz 5G network and China Mobile’s 2600MHz network – to which CBN has been granted access on a wholesale basis – will adopt the same shared technical solutions.

The 5G Network Maintenance Collaboration Agreement establishes that the two parties share equal network management rights of the 700MHz 5G network, although China Mobile will undertake the operation and maintenance work on the network, with CBN paying fees for such. The network will be dual-connected to the respective core networks of the two operators, and each will undertake the maintenance work for their own core networks. China Mobile will be responsible for the maintenance of the transmission carrier network.

The Market Collaboration Agreement, meanwhile, sets out plans for the two firms to collaborate on innovation in areas such as models of products and operations, whilst remaining independent in terms of branding and business operations. Further, under Phase One of the agreement, CBN may share China Mobile’s 2G, 4G and 5G networks on a paid basis. During Phase Two CBN may share China Mobile’s 2600MHz network (on a paid basis) but, following large-scale commercialisation of the 700MHz network, CBN will not utilise Mobile’s 2G and 4G networks.

The Network Usage Fees Settlement Agreement details the fees payable by CBN to China Mobile. During Phase One, operation and maintenance fees for the 700MHz network and usage fees for the transmission carrier network will be accrue from the second month after the 700MHz 5G base stations are connected to CBN’s core network or transmission nodes, with the fees charged according to the number of base stations. In addition, CBN will settle usage fees for Mobile’s 2G/4G/5G networks according to the business volume of CBN’s customers in their use of the systems. During the first five years of Phase Two of the deals the various fees payable by CBN will be paid at rates negotiated by the two parties but in 2026 the pair will renegotiate the settlement amounts for the remaining duration of the agreements.