China Broadnet launches 5G mobile service

China Broadnet has  launched 5G mobile services, beginning a race to catch up with its far more well-established rivals.  In 2019, a group of Chinese cable broadcast and television operators, then known as China Broadcasting Network (CBN), won spectrum in the country’s national 5G spectrum auction, signaling their ambition to become the nation’s fourth fully-fledged nationwide mobile operator.
The Chinese government-backed company won 80 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum and 100 MHz of 4.9 GHz spectrum, both of which can be used to provide 5G services.
Catching up with the three other state owned 5G telcos –China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Mobile -will be difficult. 5G subscribers currently account for around a quarter of the trio’s existing subscriber base, totaling around 428 million people. As such, the greenfield mobile operator will need to scale up quickly if it is to prove competitive.

For the first new operator in the market in 15 years, it’s going to be all uphill. Broadnet’s fate will likely be shaped by three key factors, according to Robert Clark of Light Reading:

1.  How level is the playing field?

China’s telecom industry has no body of competition law. In fact, China has no telecommunications law of any kind, despite 40 years of trying. It has an anti-monopoly law, but it has never been applied to a national state-owned corporation.

By some stroke of good fortune, China Broadnet may not face any interconnection, data sharing, number porting or other issues with the incumbent operators. If it does, it will be at the mercy of the MIIT, the NRTA’s bureaucratic arch-rival and default regulator, as well as its larger competitors.

2.  Strength of Broadnet’s partnership with market leader China Mobile?

The alliance with the industry giant may give Broadnet some extra backing in dealing with China Unicom and China Telecom. But that will depend on whether China Mobile sees Broadnet as a partner whose success aids its own success, or a competitor who happens to be a customer that can be easily brushed aside.

3.  Whether the new 5G competitor will drive the industry into a price war?

That wouldn’t surprise anyone who has seen Rakuten overturn the staid Japanese market in the past two years (see NTT DoCoMo making gains, anticipating pain in price war).

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Backgrounder:
Earlier this month, the China Broadcasting Network was rebranded as China Broadnet and at the same time announced it was taking pre-registration for 5G phone numbers. Today, China Broadnet has begun its 5G journey in earnest, announcing the launch of commercial services.
For now, it seems that the operator has very little in the way of its own network infrastructure, being largely reliant on a network sharing agreement with China Mobile signed back in early 2021 to offer services to customers. The 11-year network sharing deal with China Mobile was split into two phases; the first year-long phase, would see China Broadnet able to purchase wholesale access to China Mobile’s 2G, 4G and 5G networks for the duration of 2021, while the following 10-year phase will allow China Broadnet access China Mobile’s 700 MHz and 2.6 GHz networks, as well as committing them to the shared deployment of a large-scale deployment of a shared 700MHz network.
This network sharing agreement will allow China Broadnet to today offer 5G services to a huge proportion of Chinese consumers but luring them away from the more established providers will be difficult. Based on the company’s website, it seems that its mobile plans are slightly cheaper than comparative offers by China Mobile – for example, its cheapest 5G plan is 118 yuan ($17.60) for 40GB of data, while China Mobile charges roughly 10 yuan ($1.50) more for a similar plan ¬– but whether this will be enticing enough to secure a significant market share remains to be seen.
Nonetheless, Broadnet does have something of a unique selling point for customers in its broad array of media assets, with the operator hoping to become a converged mobile and media company, providing immersive and interactive broadcast and TV media services, including the use of augmented and virtual reality, which will be enabled by their 5G network.
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In related news, earlier this month, China Broadnet announced that it had selected ZTE to provide the 5G core network for a location-based service (LBS) project, seemingly initially focused on providing support for emergency services. ZTE will deploy their technology at one site in Beijing and another in Nanjing, with the result being that all of Broadnet’s 5G customers will be able to benefit from emergency location services, with further applications for the technology related to enterprise customers expected to be announced in the near future.
References:

China Telecom, ZTE jointly build spatiotemporal cognitive network for digital transformation

ZTE Corporation and the Zhejiang Branch of China Telecom have jointly built a self-adaptive spatiotemporal cognitive network based on ZTE’s Radio Composer, improving dynamic user experiences in high-capacity scenarios.   Under the collaboration with intelligent user navigation, the network solution matches network resources with traffic distribution more precisely and efficiently through on-demand elastic coverage of two-layer network, adapting to user group flow in space over different time periods.

The spatiotemporal cognitive network intelligently predicts traffic distribution in the first place. According to location change of user groups in different time periods within base station coverage, the network solution, by virtue of LSTM (long short-term memory) algorithms, performs in-depth study and prediction of traffic distribution on physical grid level and analyses the traffic space distribution trend in different periods.

 

Based on the traffic distribution trend in both time and frequency, the spatiotemporal cognitive network implements the intelligent carrier power scaling function through power sharing, to achieve flexible coverage adjustment.  Below is an example of Traffic distribution of different periods in one area over time:

When the traffic loads within coverage of the two carriers are both high, the solution balances the two carriers with the same coverage to guarantee capacity. When the traffic loads within coverage of the two carriers differentiates obviously, the solution adjusts the coverage mode. It adopts high power to cover the high-load area and decreases power in the low-load area, therefore precisely matching radio resources to ensure user experiences.

The spatiotemporal cognitive network focuses on intelligent experience collaboration and establishes AI logic grid knowledge base of base stations, in order to further balance network efficiency and user experiences.

With the model of intelligent carrier power scaling, real-time user experiences are evaluated according to the blocking rate. When user experiences cannot match service requirements well, with intelligent experience prediction based on the grid knowledge base, the users can be rapidly guided to the targeted grids, ensuring the optimal resource allocation.  The traditional fixed network coverage model changes with network intelligence and self-adaptation, from “user searching for network” to “network self-adapting to user.”

Moving forward, the Zhejiang Branch of China Telecom and ZTE will keep innovating together to provide superb network performance and boost digital transformation.

References:

https://www.zte.com.cn/global/about/news/20220526e2.html

China’s state policy: shape global tech standards to increase influence and enhance global reputation

In line with China President  Xi Jinping‘s goal of making the country a ‘major power with pioneering global influence’ by 2049, China has been leveraging its technological prowess and geopolitical heft to shape the global technological environment and standards to serve its commercial and strategic interests, a media report said.

China has adopted a state-directed strategy to influence international standards setting, and use them as a foreign policy tool to enhance its global standing, the Times of Israel reported, adding that, the Xi administration has employed a dual-track approach to set the international technological standards.

On the one hand, it seeks to influence both the multilateral (governmental) and the multi-stakeholder technical Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) by placing Chinese nationals in senior leadership positions (like in 3GPP and ITU-R WP5D)  and larger representation of Chinese tech companies (the three China state owned network providers, Huawei, ZTE and smaller players like Nufront with its own 5G RIT spec), and other Chinese companies, with guidance from the Party-State (CCP), are creating standards utilizing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Digital Silk Road (DSR).

With respect to 5G radio interface technology (RIT) standards,  three China  ministries (MIIT, NDRC and MOST) jointly established the “IMT-2020(5G) Promotion Group” in February 2013. The objectives have been met:

– Promote the development of 5G technologies in China.

– Facilitate cooperation with foreign companies and organizations MIIT Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

– Drive China’s contributions to ITU-R WP5D 5G standards (M.2150 and revisions of M.1036) and 3GPP release 15 and 16 specifications (a Chinese national heads up the critical 3GPP “URLLC in the RAN” project).

The Group helped progress the ITU-R M.2150 standard for 5G RAN/RIT/SRITs.  Initially China had it’s own 5G RIT spec, but it was later merged with 3GPPs as was South Korea’s.

At the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the involvement of Chinese commercial entities have increased after the impetus provided by ITU‘s current Secretary-General, Zhao Houlin who has served two terms as Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (STB).   China is second only to the U.S. in the number of entities registered as ITU members, according to the referenced Times of Israel blog.

In 2021 alone, Chinese entities backed 145 new standards at the ITU, up from 46 in 2015 and six times more than Western entities.

The number of Chinese nationals in secretariat and leadership positions in critical multi-stakeholder SSOs such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) has also surged in the past decade.

Beyond the IEC, ISO, and ITU, Chinese actors are also active in other SDOs including the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) that develops 5G technical specifications, as well as Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the report said, adding that the companies such as Alibaba, BaiduHuawei, Tencent and ZTE are advanced members of the IEEE Standards Association.

Not only do Chinese firms ‘flood’ committees with a huge volume of standards proposals and contributions, but they also typically vote as a single bloc. Beijing also has a tendency to use its debt and trade leverage to influence the votes of a number of countries in favour of its proposals. This produces a strikingly high rate of success in the number of Chinese submissions at the ITU, the Times of Israel blog noted.

Another emerging facet of China’s approach to technology standards setting is the Digital Silk Road (DSR) initiative, which is one of the primary vehicles delivering Chinese technology to BRI partner states. By signing agreements with BRI partner governments, Beijing is propagating its own technology standards in project host states, creating dependencies that lock these countries into using Chinese vendors and standards.

Beijing’s moves are aimed at setting global standards for the next-generation technologies, the report said, adding, that it wants to gain control over key technologies like the Internet of Things, Cloud Computing, Big Data, 5G and artificial intelligence.

In light of above, it is apparent that Beijing’s moves are aimed at setting global standards for the next-generation technologies. The CCP  wants to gain control over key technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud Computing, Big Data, 5G and artificial intelligence.

International organizations need to be wary of these maneuvers in order to prevent Beijing from dominating global technology standards and thus gaining a monopoly over the world’s future-shaping technologies, the Times of Israel report concluded.

References:

https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/china-attempting-to-influence-international-standards-institutions20220409224737/

https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/double-standards-chinas-influence-in-international-standards/

https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/seaman_china_standardization_2020.pdf

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2018/11/18/with-no-5g-standard-imt-2020-china-is-working-on-6g/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/tag/chinas-imt-2020-promotion-group/

WSJ: China Leads the Way With Private 5G Networks at Industrial Facilities

Editor’s Note on Private 5G:

Do you agree with the WSJ article below?  We don’t, as we believe China’s 5G is fake news/mass propaganda!

It will be interesting to see what type of company will be the big winners in 5G private networks?  Among the contenders are: legacy carriers (Deutsche Telekom, Verizon, AT&T, NTT, etc), legacy network equipment vendors (Nokia, Ericsson, etc), Cloud Computing giants (Amazon), IT vendors with no cellular network presence (Cisco, HPE, Dell, Intel), upstarts which are also pursuing Open RAN (Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, Rakuten Symphony, etc).
Or systems integrators, like Accenture, WiPro, Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, etc who will put together the network pieces for the end user/customer that leases spectrum and totally bypasses wireless carriers?
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WSJ:

China Leads the Way With Private 5G Networks at Industrial Facilities

–>Among the projects: a coal mine where 5G allows remote inspections of mines and the automation of mining activity 

by Dan Strumpf

China is racing ahead in building the infrastructure of 5G networks, but it is inside factories, coal mines, shipyards and warehouses where the technology is really taking off.

The country is widely seen as being out front in the deployment of localized, high-powered 5G networks in sprawling industrial sites, which aim to use the technology to help automate labor-intensive or dangerous industrial processes, and hopefully boost productivity.

These sites include 5G coal mines with remote-operated drilling machinery, so-called smart factories that automate production and quality control, and seaports with internet-connected cameras that process and tally freight containers.

These 5G private networks are different from the consumer-oriented networks that blanket towns and cities, in that they are dedicated to specific enterprise sites with tailor-made hardware and software. Isolated from public networks, they can be adjusted to specific requirements and handle more complex jobs and processes.

Note: 2022 to 2030 are forecasts.  Source: ABI Research

Many such projects are under construction in the U.S., Europe and other parts of the world. But analysts say the construction and deployment of private networks is further along in China, where the government has set aggressive targets for building high-tech work sites powered by next-generation networks.

“China is quite ambitious in terms of developing their 5G—basically putting 5G as a national priority and targeting the digital transformation and connectivity of the economy,” says Sihan Bo Chen, head of Greater China for the telecom industry group GSMA.

Last year, companies involved in their deployment generated $1.2 billion of revenue from 5G private networks serving businesses and governments in China, accounting for about a third of the global total and more than the revenue generated in Europe and North America combined, according to ABI Research, a technology research firm. The figure is a proxy for the scale of the deployments of such networks in China, says Leo Gergs, an analyst with ABI who studies the use of 5G networks by businesses.

The research firm expects China’s lead to widen in the coming years, given aggressive government targets. This year, it expects private-network revenue generated in China to rise about 60%. By 2025, it will top $5 billion, ABI forecasts.

China leads the world in 5G deployment in general. As of the end of last year, the country had installed more than 1.4 million 5G base stations, accounting for 60% of the world’s total, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the government agency that oversees China’s tech sector.

In April last year, Beijing set out a series of goals for the country to meet in 5G by 2023. In a plan called “Set Sail,” it aims for more than 560 million individual 5G users across the country, with the 5G subscriber rate exceeding 40% of the population. For major industries, the government wants the penetration rate for 5G to exceed 35%. It also has a goal to build more than 3,000 private 5G networks by that year.

“This shows how deeply involved the government is” in China’s 5G deployment, Mr. Gergs says.

Huawei 5G equipment at the Xinyuan Coal Mine in China’s Shanxi province. PHOTO: QILAI SHEN/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Several such projects in China are already up and running. One example: the Xinyuan Coal Mine in China’s coal-rich Shanxi province. Last year, telecom vendor Huawei Technologies Co. and state-owned operator China Mobile developed an underground 5G network to allow remote inspections of mines and the automation of mining activity, with tunneling equipment operated by remote control deep underground.

Similar technology is at work at the Xiangtan Iron & Steel plant in the southern Chinese city of Xiangtan. In 2019, Huawei and China Mobile built 5G coverage for the plant, which now runs 5G-connected cranes and video surveillance cameras to help operate and monitor the plant, according to a report on the project by GSMA. At the port city of Ningbo, the companies built a similar 5G network to help automate the tallying of freight containers and power unmanned container trucks, GSMA says.

“Private network deployments are really just starting and China is already a bit of an outlier,” Mr. Gergs says.

Mr. Strumpf is a Wall Street Journal reporter in Hong Kong. He can be reached at [email protected].

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-leads-the-way-with-private-5g-networks-at-industrial-facilities-11647163802

WSJ: U.S. Wireless Carriers Are Winning 5G Customers for the Wrong Reason

 

 

China to accelerate 5G roll-outs while FCC faces “rip and replace” funding shortfall

China Daily reports that local governments in China are doubling down on plans to accelerate 5G rollouts in 2022. More than 20 provincial and municipal governments in China have emphasized efforts to accelerate construction of “new infrastructure” like 5G and data centers in their work plans for this year.

Shanghai plans to build more than 25,000 5G base stations this year (do you really believe that?) to push forward the in-depth coverage of the superfast wireless network. The city also has ambitions to build super large computing power platforms to meet growing demand.

Zhao Zhiguo, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s top industry regulator, said earlier:

“2022 is a critical year for the large-scale development of 5G applications. We will continue to improve 5G network coverage and accelerate the in-depth integration of 5G and vertical industries.”

One of the priorities is to moderately speed up the coverage of 5G in counties and rural towns in China, Zhao said.

Ten ministries, including the Cyberspace Administration of China, recently unveiled a digital rural development action plan for the period from 2022 to 2025, which called for an intensified push to promote digital infrastructure upgrades in rural areas.

Telecom operators are also moving fast. China Mobile, the nation’s largest telecom carrier, said it aims to achieve continuous 5G coverage in rural towns across the country by the end of this year.

Telecom carriers’ 5G plans seek to harness the power of more than 1.4 million 5G base stations that were deployed in China by the end of last year (but can you really trust that China government reported number?). 5G signals are already available in urban areas of all of China’s prefecture-level cities, more than 98% of county-level towns and 80 percent of rural towns, MIIT data showed.

5G Cell Tower in China.  Image courtesy of China Daily

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In the U.S., it’s a different story. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found a shortfall in funding for its plan to replace Chinese telecom equipment. Inadequate finance is likely to pose connectivity challenges to people in remote areas in the US, experts said.

According to a report on MobileWorld Live, a telecom industry website, the FCC said local telecom operators’ requests for funding to replace network equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE totaled $5.6 billion, almost three times the $1.9 billion allocated by the US federal government. Network operators serving less than 10 million customers which used government subsidies to buy Huawei or ZTE equipment before 30 June 2020 were eligible to apply for funding to cover costs associated with removing, replacing and disposing of the Chinese network equipment.

In a statement released last week, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that 181 carriers submitted initial reimbursement application requests totaling approximately $5.6 billion.  Carriers are required to remove and replace existing network gear from Huawei and ZTE after the vendors were deemed national security risks. Congress in late 2020 set aside around $1.9 billion to fund and carry out the effort under the Secured and Trusted Communications Act 2019.

“Last year Congress created a first-of-its kind program for the FCC to reimburse service providers for their efforts to increase the security of our nations communications networks,” Rosenworcel said. “We’ve received over 181 applications from carriers who have developed plans to remove and replace equipment in their networks that pose a national security threat,” she added.

The FCC banned U.S. telecom carriers from buying Huawei and ZTE’s equipment via federal subsidies, citing what it alleged were national security concerns. The two Chinese tech companies have repeatedly denied the accusations, which they said are groundless.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association in China, said Huawei and ZTE’s products are currently used by US telecom carriers to offer network and broadband services in some of the most remote regions in the US. Xiang said that the U.S. order to replace Huawei/ZTE wireless network equipment in rural areas will result in the lack of quality telecom services.

Steve Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association, a trade group for about 100 wireless providers in the US, issued a statement calling on the U.S. government to ensure the FCC program is fully funded so that connectivity is maintained during the operators’ transition to new wireless telecom equipment for their cellular networks.

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Table 1: All the companies asking for FCC “rip and replace” funding

Company Applicant Wireless Wireline Total Vendor
Viaero Wireless NE Colorado Cellular Inc X $1,194,000,000 Ericsson
Union Wireless Union Telephone Company X $688,000,000 Nokia
ATN International Commnet Wireless, X $418,768,726
Gogo Gogo Business Aviation LLC X $332,770,202
NTCH PTA-FLA, Inc. $273,971,426
Lumen Level 3 Communications, LLC X $269,999,994
Stealth Communications X $199,066,226
SI Wireless, LLC X $181,023,489
United Wireless Communications, Inc. X $173,471,477
Hotwire Communications, Ltd. X $141,299,003
Latam Telecommunications, L.L.C. $138,060,092
NEMONT TELEPHONE COOPERATIVE INC X $125,551,024
NTUA Wireless, LLC X $124,447,019
Windstream Communications LLC X $118,271,652
Rise Broadband Skybeam, LLC X $106,159,884
Pine Telephone Company X $87,095,419
Mediacom Communications Corporation X $86,171,976
Flat Wireless, LLC X $76,284,671
Pine Belt Cellular, Inc. X $74,856,191
James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company X $53,000,000
AST Telecom, LLC d/b/a Bluesky X $49,959,592
Country Wireless LLC X $47,508,982
Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC X $47,172,086
Board of Trustees, Northern Michigan University X $45,796,636
Hargray Communications Group, Inc. X $42,785,933
NfinityLink Communications, Inc. $37,535,905
Plateau Telecommunications, Incorporated X $30,000,000
Texas 10, LLC $29,088,795
Mark Twain Communications Company X $29,000,000
Panhandle Telecommunication Systems Inc $28,925,552
TelAlaska Cellular, Inc. X $26,567,517
Central Louisiana Cellular, LLC X $26,264,528
TRANSTELCO INC. X $25,573,213
Beamspeed, L.L.C. X $19,596,157
Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association, Inc. X $18,336,507 Mavenir
Eastern Oregon Telecom, LLC X $18,122,185
Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Inc. X $16,857,851
Vitelcom Cellular, Inc. d/b/a Viya Wireless X $15,716,011
Santel Communications Cooperative, Inc. X $14,604,337
MHG Telco LLC X $14,456,482
WorldCell Soutions, LLC X $12,673,559
LIGTEL COMMUNICATIONS INC. X $12,000,000
Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC X $11,344,724
Copper Valley Wireless, LLC X $11,151,417
Premier Holdings LLC $9,759,680
Eltopia Communications, LLC X X $7,741,951
Metro Fibernet, LLC X $7,567,518
Bestel (USA), Inc. $6,887,500
PocketiNet Communications Inc. $6,741,452
Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD X $5,943,974
Windy City Cellular X $5,562,067
Bristol Bay Cellular Partnership X $5,269,183
Kings County Office of Education $5,221,191
Interoute US LLC $4,867,140
Pasadena ISD $4,387,311
Velocity Communications, Inc. X $4,158,729
Advantage Cellular Systems, Inc. X $3,479,000
New Wave Net Corp $3,365,772
FirstLight Fiber, Inc. $3,306,644
Gigsky, Inc. X $3,128,678
Triangle Communication Systems Inc $2,779,371
FIF Utah LLC X $2,662,538
Gallatin Wireless Internet, LLC X $2,399,162
Moore Public Schools $2,023,243
HUFFMAN ISD $1,920,588
Crowley ISD $1,720,496
Castleberry Independent School District X $1,672,527
One Ring Networks, Inc. $1,649,281
University of San Francisco $1,570,437
Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. $1,511,617
Zito West Holding, LLC X $1,453,469
Southern Ohio Communication Services Inc $1,312,844
Xtreme Enterprises LLC X $1,097,283
Virginia Everywhere, LLC X $562,001
South Canaan Telephone Company $542,139
Palmer ISD $520,146
Waxahachie ISD X $457,396
Hunter Communications & Technologies LLC $432,348
Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency $413,760
COMMSELL $302,400
VTel Wireless, Inc. X $283,618
Trinity Basin Preparatory, Inc. $242,510
NTInet, inc $198,340
LakeNet LLC X $193,277
IdeaTek Telcom, LLC X $181,899
Millennium Telcom, L.L.C., dba OneSource Communications $165,195
Inland Cellular LLC X $117,183
Roome Telecommunications Inc $92,144
Milford Independent School District $40,399
Angeles Enterprises X $33,368
Crystal Broadband Networks X $28,704
Natural G.C. Inc. $27,313
Webformix Internet Company X $22,400
Northern Cambria School District $14,400
Deer Creek Independent School District $-
$5,609,338,024
This FCC data was initially compiled by vendor Mavenir and then expanded, checked and edited by Light Reading staff.

“We’ve received over 181 applications from carriers who have developed plans to remove and replace equipment in their networks that pose a national security threat. While we have more work to do to review these applications, I look forward to working with Congress to ensure that there is enough funding available for this program to advance Congress’s security goals and ensure that the US will continue to lead the way on 5G security,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

References:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202202/09/WS620303dfa310cdd39bc85734.html

Are China’s huge 5G numbers to be believed?

Disclosure: 

Many experts believe you can not trust any economic numbers reported by China’s government. China has a long history of opaqueness when it comes to reporting economic statistics. Here’s a reference: https://www.heritage.org/international-economies/commentary/the-problem-false-chinese-economic-data

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Summary:

Xie Cun, Director of China’s Information and Communication Development Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), stated last week that China has built more than 1.15 million 5G base stations, accounting for more than 70% of the world.

Prefectural-level cities, more than 97% of counties and 40% of towns and towns have achieved 5G network coverage.  China’s network operators report they have a total of 450 million 5G terminal users, accounting for 27% of all mobile subscribers in China and more than 80% of the world.

210 million 5G smartphones have been sold in China so far this year, up 69% over 2020 and representing nearly three-quarters of all handsets sold in China.

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Analysis:

The overarching  factor in China’s spectacular 5G statistics is the role of the national government.  In addition to its direct control of the three state owned network operators [1.], the CCP has ensured – through its high-profile national plans, the supportive Chinese media, and the now-ubiquitous enterprise party committees – that the entire industry is in sync with its prolific 5G ambitions.

Note 1. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are together allocating 185 billion yuan ($29 billion) for 5G capex this year alone.  5G plans are available at ultra-low prices, with China Mobile’s entry-level package around $12 a month.

According to the China telecom operators’ numbers, the total number of ‘5G package’ subscribers is 667 million – more than 50% higher than the number of actual 5G users. That’s because there are a tremendous number of 4G subscribers buying the bigger 5G packages.

Light Reading’s Robert Clark wrote:

The operators and the MIIT do not disclose the kind of meaningful network rollout data used by operators in the rest of the world, like percentage of population covered.

So we know nothing about the actual reach of China’s giant 5G project. Most likely, the two giant networks – China Mobile’s and the shared China Telecom-China Unicom network – each covers exactly the same population.

Which leads to the second problem – the distortions of a top-down plan driven by bureaucratic dynamics rather than market needs.

Major cities have rushed to offer rent and tax rebates to speed up rollouts and, of course, to catch the eye of their Beijing bosses.

According to Light Reading’s count, a year ago the wealthy cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen accounted for nearly a third of the total 5G rollout.

That is why the MIIT’s new five-year plan makes a point of demanding that 5G be extended to 80% of all rural administrative villages by 2025. Currently, 5G is available in exactly 0% of them.

The other problem in this approach is the built-in irrational exuberance. Since launching 5G, the telcos have worked tirelessly to build out a portfolio of enterprise use cases, as anticipated by the national 5G plans. China Mobile, for one, has developed 470 enterprise apps and nine industry platforms.

But the operators are now tapping out, acknowledging the futility of developing thousands of customized applications, most of which they now admit are “showroom-only.” That’s without getting into the complexities of telco generalists trying to sell into highly specialized segments.

At first look, the scale of China’s government mandated 5G project seems quite impressive.  However,  in reality it’s a story of fake numbers, rapid rollouts and low subscriber prices.

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References:

https://www.finet.hk/newscenter/news_content/61944e4dbde0b33639732370

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/behind-chinas-huge-5g-numbers-fast-rollout-and-low-prices/d/d-id/773735?

https://spectrum.ieee.org/how-america-can-prepare-to-live-in-chinas-5g-world

China plans to triple the number of 5G base stations by end of 2025

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) plans to more than triple the number of 5G base stations over the next four years, targeting a total of 3.64 million by end-2025, local newspaper China Daily reported.

China aims to have about 3.64 million 5G base stations by the end of 2025.  That’s 26 5G base stations for every 10,000 people.   In comparison, there were only five 5G base stations for every 10,000 people in China in 2020.

Xie Cun, director of MIIT, said the overall goal proposed in a five-year plan for the information and communication industry is to basically build a high-speed, ubiquitous, smart, green, safe and reliable new digital infrastructure by 2025.

The plan also proposed that the penetration rate of 5G users in China will increase from 15 percent in 2020 to 56 percent in 2021, and by then, 80 percent of China’s administrative villages will have 5G signal accessibility.

Xie said that China so far has already built more than 1.15 million 5G base stations, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global total, and 5G network coverage has been achieved in urban areas of all prefecture-level cities, 97 percent of counties and 40 percent of rural towns across the country.

The 5G mobile subscriber accounts in China, numbering some 450 million, make up over 80 percent of the global total, Xie added.

The five-year plan also forecast that by the end of 2025, the information and communication industry will maintain an annual growth rate of about 10 percent to reach a total revenue of 4.3 trillion yuan ($674.2 billion) in 2025. The plan also forecast that the cumulative investment in telecom infrastructure will increase from 2.5 trillion yuan in 2020 to 3.7 trillion yuan in 2025.

Widening the industrial use of 5G will also be a key focus for China. Xie said 5G has already been used in 22 industries. The application of 5G in industrial manufacturing, mining and ports is relatively mature, where 5G has been expanded from production assistance to core businesses such as equipment control and quality control. Meanwhile, a number of 5G-powered applications have also emerged in industries such as medical care, education and entertainment.

“In the next step, we will work with other parties to focus on promoting 5G applications in 15 industries that target information consumption, real economy and people’s livelihood services,” Xie said.

Wang Zhiqin, deputy head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, said China is likely to achieve several breakthroughs in 5G technological evolution, network construction and applications by 2025.

“By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China will have built the world’s largest and most extensive stand-alone 5G network and basically achieve full network coverage in urban and rural areas,” Wang said.

Ding Yun, president of Huawei Technologies carrier business group, said:

“5G is no longer for early adopters. It is improving our daily lives. This year is the first year with large-scale 5G industry applications. Operators will need new capabilities in network planning, deployment, maintenance, optimization and operations, in order to achieve zero to one, and replicate success from one to many.”

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Technicians check a 5G base station in Tongling, Anhui province, China

[Photo by Guo Shining/For China Daily]

Chinese operators recorded a net gain of 43.88 million 5G subscribers in September, according to the carriers’ latest available figures.

China Mobile, the world’s largest operator in terms of subscribers, added a total of 27.08 million 5G subscribers in September.  The state owned #1 carrier said it ended last month with 331.22 million 5G subscribers, compared to 113.59 million 5G customers in September 2020.  China Mobile has added a total of 166.22 million subscribers in the 5G segment since the beginning of the year.

Rival operator China Unicom said it added a total of 7.88 million 5G subscribers during last month. During the first nine months of the year, the carrier added a total of 66.11 million 5G subscribers. The telco ended September with 136.94 million 5G subscribers. China Unicom started to provide 5G statistics earlier this year.

China Telecom added 8.92 million 5G subscribers in September to take its total 5G subscribers base to 155.54 million. During the January-September period, the telco added a total of 69.04 million 5G subscribers.

References:

2021 World 5G Convention in Beijing: “5G+ By All For All”

The 2021 World 5G Convention, themed “5G+ By All For All, ” kicked off in Beijing Etrong International Exhibition & Convention Center on 31st August 2021. With more than 1,500 experts, scholars and entrepreneurs from 20 countries participating online and offline, the convention aims to discuss the future application of 5G in the fields of “industry”, “economy” and “innovation” .

Co-hosted by The People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the three-day event features forums, exhibitions and a 5G-based application design competition.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), since 5G came into commercial use in China, 993,000 5G base stations have been built. With more than 392 million households connected to 5G terminals, 5G base stations has covered all prefecture-level cities, more than 95% of counties and 35% of townships.

By now, over 10,000 5G application cases have covered 22 important industries and related fields of China’s economy, including steel, electric power and mining. Besides, a large number of colorful application scenarios are becoming new engines leading China’s high-quality development.

The convention unveiled 10 projects for 5G applications, all of which best represented 5G industrial practices and cutting-edge business patterns.

Eight white papers and research reports on 5G technologies were released during the event, and 18 strategic cooperative projects including the application of 5G technologies in Beijing’s municipal parks were signed at the closing ceremony.

As the host city of the event, Beijing will step up efforts to promote the construction of 5G network, industrial internet, and big data platform, accelerating the use of 5G technologies in telemedicine, self-driving vehicles, high-definition live streaming, and other fields during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

Li Meng, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, said that at present, the new generation of information technology, represented by the mobile Internet, artificial intelligence, big data and supercomputing, is booming and evolving at a faster pace, bringing significant and far-reaching impact on economic development, the improvement of people’s livelihood and the environment and ecology of all countries.

“As China enters a new stage of development, implementing new development concepts, building a new development pattern and achieving high-quality development, sci-tech innovation are more than ever needed,” Li said. “At the same time, the huge potential market, diversified consumer demands and emerging industrial forms will also provide more diversified application scenarios and broader space for sci-tech innovation.”

As for how to promote the maturity of 5G enhanced technology, Li elaborated, “We are willing to continuously uphold the idea of opening up and cooperation, mutual benefit and win-win result, with more open attitudes and more pragmatic approaches, further strengthen the international cooperation of the evolution of 5G technology.”

Visitors experience 5G stereo photography at a venue of the 2021 World 5G Convention in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 1, 2021. (Photo: China News Service/Yi Haifei)

Relying on 5G application technology and industrial base, exploring the secondary technology development system of 5G vertical industry application system, with joint efforts, we are endeavoring to address imperative needs of 5G frequency expansion and coverage enhancement, carry out standards of 5G enhanced technology and equipment R&D, and enhance the adaptability of 5G vertical industry applications, noted Li.

Li stressed that the Ministry of Science and Technology warmly welcomes entrepreneurs, universities and research institutions from all over the world to join in the future R&D of 5G, seizing the new trends and opportunities of global information technology development. With joint efforts and deep cooperation, create more breakthrough and leading technological achievements.

The World 5G Convention is claimed by China Daily to be the world’s first international conference in the 5G field. The first edition of this event took place in Beijing in 2019.

SOURCE: Science and Technology Daily

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References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/2021-world-5g-convention-speeding-up-the-application-of-5g-and-promoting-innovation-301367839.html

http://www.china.org.cn/business/2021-09/02/content_77729828.htm

http://en.people.cn/n3/2021/0902/c90000-9891257.html

https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202109/01/WS612f435ba310efa1bd66cac6.html

China telcos add 43.71 5G subscribers in July, while capital spending declines

5G Subscriber Adds:

China’s network operators recorded a net addition of 43.71 million 5G subscribers in July, according to the carriers’ latest available reports.

  • China Mobile, the world’s largest operator in terms of subscribers, added 28.91 million 5G subscribers in July.  It had 279.60 million 5G subscribers at the end of July, compared to 84.05 million 5G customers in July 2020.  The telco’s overall mobile subscriber base at the end of July reached 947.46 million, up compared to 945.50 million in June 2020.
  • China Unicom said it added a total of 7.74 million 5G subscribers during July. During the first seven months of the year, Unicom added a total of 50.24 million 5G subscribers.  The telco ended July with 121.07 million 5G subscribers. China Unicom reported an overall mobile base of with 311.61 million subscribers at the end of last month, up from 310.45 million in June.
  • China Telecom added 7.06 million 5G subscribers in July to take its total 5G subscribers base to 138.21 million.  The telco added 51.71 million 5G customers in the January-July period. China Telecom’s overall mobile base amounted to 364.62 million subscribers at the end of the July, after adding 2.13 million customers during the month.

China Telco CAPEX Crash:

However, total capital spending by the three state owned China telecom operators declined by 35% in the first half, with the number of new 5G base stations down 34% compared with last year. Spending on 5G by the two biggest telcos, China Mobile and China Telecom, slid 19%. China Unicom, has not disclosed its 5G spending but said it had reached only a fifth of its full-year capex target.

China Unicom revealed it had spent only RMB14 billion ($2.2 billion) of its 2021 capex budget of RMB70 billion ($10.8 billion), down 45% from 2020. It has a year-end target for 5G of RMB35 billion ($5.4 billion), the same as 2020.

China Mobile’s 5G investment of RMB50.2 billion ($7.8 billion) was 9% lower than last year, and only 46% of its full-year target of RMB110 billion ($17 billion).

China Tower reported a 28% fall in capex to 10.4 billion yuan ($1.6 billion).

China Telecom’s 5G spend plunged 45% to RMB11.1 billion ($1.71 billion), just over a quarter of its full-year forecast of RMB39.7 billion ($6.1 billion). Total capex declined 37% for the half. From the Chinese website Yicai.com:

From the data point of view, China Telecom’s capital expenditure in the first half of this year was less than one-third of the annual capital expenditure, and the investment progress was lagging behind. Liu Guiqing said that 5G was the largest investment in the first half of the year, including investment in 3.5GHz and 2.1GHz equipment. “On the whole, the investment in 3.5GHz equipment is relatively normal; for 2.1GHz investment, we make corresponding adaptations according to the current situation of the entire industry chain and the terminal ecology. At present, the purchase of 2.1GHz equipment has been completed, 3.5GHz telecom equipment is being negotiated, and there will be results soon.” He said that 87 billion yuan of investment can be completed this year, of which 5G investment is 39.7 billion yuan.

The China telcos maintain the same capex guidance for the full year of around 185 billion yuan ($28.6 billion), slightly up from last year’s 182 billion yuan ($28.1 billion). Yet for China Telecom and China Unicom, those capex numbers look quite challenging.

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5G Base Station Builds:

China’s three major mobile carriers have already activated 961,000 5G base stations and connected 365 million 5G-compatible devices by end-June, Chinese press reported, citing comments by press secretary for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Tian Yulong.

Unicom said it had built just 80,000 new base stations in the first half and was aiming to deploy another 240,000 in the latter half of this year.

Meanwhile, China Broadcast Network and China Mobile have recently completed a tender to deploy 400,000 5G base stations this year, as part of the companies’ efforts to launch a shared 5G network. The contracts had been won by Huawei, ZTE, Datang, Nokia and Ericsson.

China Mobile has attributed its lower 5G investment to issues around its partnership with China Broadcast Network in building a new 5G network in the 700MHz band. The main tender was set in July. China’s 5G rollout is a high priority infrastructure project closely supervised by the national government. The two carriers expect this shared 5G network to reach nationwide coverage within the next two years.

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5G Subscriber Forecast & 5G SA Core Network:

China is forecast to reach 739 million 5G subscribers by 2025, according to a recent study by ABI Research. That would represent nearly 40% of the total global 5G subscriber market.

Earlier this year, Liu Liehong, vice minister of industry and information technology, had said that 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks covered all prefecture-level cities across China.

We wonder if all China’s telcos have implemented the same specification for 5G SA/core network and whether it is “cloud native” or not?  Also, whether they use NFV (virtual machines) or containers?

Note there is no standard or implementation specification(s) that would ensure vendor interoperability on 5G SA networks from different telcos.

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References:

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20210824/5g/chinese-carriers-add-43-million-5g-subscribers-july

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/chip-shortage-taking-its-toll-on-china-5g-rollout/d/d-id/771681?

https://www.yicai.com/news/101136803.html

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/5G-networks/Chinese-telecom-operators-cut-back-5G-network-construction

China Telcos Lose Subscribers; 5G “Co-build and Co-share” agreement to accelerate

GlobalData: 5G to drive mobile services market in China through 2026

The total mobile service revenues in China are poised to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1% from US$131.3bn in 2021 to US$152.7bn in 2026, mainly supported by growing 5G subscriptions, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData’s China Mobile Broadband Forecast Pack, mobile voice revenues will decline at a CAGR of 5.2% between 2021 and 2026, due to falling voice average revenue per user (ARPU) levels. Mobile data revenues, on the other hand, will increase at a CAGR of 6.8%, driven by rising adoption of 5G services and the subsequent rise in data ARPU.

The three leading (state owned) network operators in China greatly increased their 5G CAPEX.  China Mobile’s 2020 5G CAPEX totaled US$15.7bn (RMB 102.5bn), 57% of all CAPEX up from US$3.7bn (RMB 24.0bn) (14% of total CAPEX) in 2019.

Meanwhile, the combined 5G CAPEX of China Telecom and China Mobile, who are sharing 5G infrastructure, totaled US$11.3bn (RMB 73bn) in 2020, 48% of total combined CAPEX, up from US$2.7 (17.2 bn) in 2019 (13% of total combined CAPEX).

Harika Damidi, Telecoms Analyst at GlobalData, says: “5G subscriptions will surpass 4G subscriptions in 2023 and go on to account for 73.8% of the total mobile subscriptions share in 2026, driven by the ongoing 5G network expansion by operators and increase in the availability of 5G-enabled smartphones. Moreover, increasing penetration of IoT and M2M services are also expected to drive market growth during the forecast period.”

The average monthly mobile data usage is forecasted to increase from 9.9GB per month in 2021 to around 32.6GB per month in 2026, driven by the growing consumption of high-bandwidth online entertainment and social media content over smartphones.

Ms Damidi concludes: “China Mobile led the Chinese telecom market in terms of mobile subscriptions in 2020, followed by China Telecom. Moreover, China Mobile is the leading provider of 5G services which are poised to dominate the Chinese market in the future. In addition, the operator is making strategic investments in 5G base stations, data centers, industrial Internet, and IoT to ensure its leadership.”

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According to GlobalData’s mobile broadband forecasts, by end of 2020 China and South Korea outpaced the world in adoption with 26% and 24% 5G subscription penetration of the population respectively compared to the Global penetration of 5% at the end of the same period. This rapid adoption is beginning to help operators in these markets grow revenue from mobile services and drive ARPU uplift in China and South Korea with overall 2021 mobile service ARPU expected to rise.

5G in China and South Korea are supporting both consumers and enterprise and even contributing to social welfare.  On the consumer side new value and revenue streams for consumer 5G is being driven by next gen content like AR/VR experiences, the ability to stream 8K anywhere, providing multi-camera views for live events, offering dedicated gaming networks and new consumer IoT applications.

Enterprise networks are being deployed as an enabler for enterprise services alongside technologies like multi-access edge computing (MEC) and IoT platforms and industrial applications to support use cases like (industrial automation, AI video applications, drones, smart city).  Often these enterprise solutions are supported by a combination of 5G, IoT and multi-access edge computing (MEC). China Mobile alone has entered contracts to construct dedicated 5G networks for private industry with 470 enterprise customers, in 2020.  The company claims these projects support 15 different industry segments and represent over US$620m (RMB 4bn) in revenues.

Beyond typical consumer and enterprise services, 5G has supported the pandemic response in both countries, with hospitals in Wuhan being rapidly connected with 5G networks and telehealth for the elderly being delivered in South Korea.

References:

5G to drive mobile services market in China through 2026, forecasts GlobalData

5G – why China and South Korea lead the world

Optimistic 5G Market forecasts by GlobalData and Research&Markets