Business· TMT

China Unicom to become first carrier offering 5G wireless telecom services this year

minutes 2019/04/25 06:03:39
China Unicom; 5G trials; 5G network

Apr 25, 2019 (China Knowledge) - China Unicom is set to become the first Chinese carrier to offer 5G wireless telecom services to the public in selected cities this year.

At a conference earlier this week, China Unicom announced that it will begin trails for 5G services in major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Xiong’an.

Rivals China Mobile is set to launch its 5G services in the second half of this year while China Telecom will do so in 2020.

Building 5G base stations required for 5G networks is estimated to cost twice as much as those for 4G networks and the upcoming 5G network is also expected to require twice as many base stations compared to the current 4G network due to increase in traffic at much higher speeds.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, upgrading current telecom networks to support new 5G networks will cost Chinese carriers up to RMB 1.2 trillion, 50% higher than their investment into the current 4G network.

This year, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile have projected to spend up to RMB 8 billion, RMB 9 billion and RMB 17.2 billion on 5G infrastructure or about 10% of their 2019 capital expenditure.

Chinese carriers are still remaining cautious about their 5G investments due to the sheer size of the expenditure and these carriers may not be able to see any return from investment for up to 8 years.

Any 5G networks launched this year will just be a testing period and peak investment is only expected to occur in the coming two years.

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