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
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.
Table 1: All the companies asking for FCC “rip and replace” funding
|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|
|Lumen||Level 3 Communications, LLC||X||$269,999,994|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Hunter Communications & Technologies LLC||$432,348|
|Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency||$413,760|
|VTel Wireless, Inc.||X||$283,618|
|Trinity Basin Preparatory, Inc.||$242,510|
|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|
|Crystal Broadband Networks||X||$28,704|
|Natural G.C. Inc.||$27,313|
|Webformix Internet Company||X||$22,400|
|Northern Cambria School District||$14,400|
|Deer Creek Independent School District||$-|
|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.