VIENNA, Austria- Chinese vendor ZTE is not concerned about the impact of the decision of state-run telecommunications operators China Telecom and China Unicom to share resources in the deployment of 5G infrastructure, ZTE’s President of Global Sales, Xiao Ming, told RCR Wireless News.
“With this decision by the two operators, there will be two nationwide 5G networks in China and not three, but we see that there will be an intense competition between China Mobile and the consortium,” the executive said on the sidelines of the ZTE’s Global Wireless User Congress and 5G Summit which took place this week in Vienna, Austria.
“We initially considered that this decision could be negative for the equipment manufacturers but now we have a positive expectation with this move as China Telecom and China Unicom will be able to have a nationwide 5G network and compete with seriously China Mobile through the network sharing agreement. China Mobile is in a position to launch its own nationwide 5G network infrastructure,” he said.
Some analysts considered that shared network infrastructure agreements of this kind could potentially reduce China’s overall infrastructure spending, which could affect telecoms gear makers such as ZTE, Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.
Ming added that ZTE expects local carriers to start massive deployments of 5G base stations nationwide at the beginning of next year.
In September, China Telecom and China Unicom inked an agreement to cooperatively build a 5G mobile network, with the main aim of reducing costs.
Under the “co-build, co-share” deal, the carriers will work together to outline districts in 15 cities for the network construction, with their respective total scale of 4G base stations in mind.
In Beijing, Tianjin, Zhengzhou, Qingdao and Shijiazhuang, the ratio of construction districts handled by China Unicom to China Telecom will be 6:4, while that ratio will be reversed in the 10 southern cities, including Shanghai, the companies said.
China Telecom’s Chairman Ke Ruiwen has previously said that the resources of China Telecom and China Unicom are highly complementary, making it easier to cooperate in the 5G space.
The two telcos had also said they were open to include China’s largest telco China Mobile in the initiative to deploy shared 5G infrastructure in low population density areas.
China Telecom said earlier this year it planned to invest CNY 9 billion ($1.26 billion) and build 40,000 5G base stations by the end of the year, in line with China Unicom’s plans. China Mobile said it would deploy 50,000 bases stations and invest CNY 24 billion this year.
China Tower Corp, the telecom tower company jointly owned and shared by the three mobile operators, said earlier this month that it had received client demands to install 65,000 5G base stations so far, a number that it expects to rise to 100,000 by the end of 2019.
In June, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) officially issued licenses for the launch of commercial 5G networks in the country. Those 5G permits were granted to state-run carriers China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and state-owned broadcaster China Broadcasting Network.
Ming said that ZTE is having talks with China Broadcasting Network regarding future 5G deployments. However, the executive said that the company did not make a decision yet regarding its deployment plans for 5G.
At the end of last year, the MIIT issued licenses for 5G trials in a number of cities across China. Commercial rollout of 5G in China was initially expected to occur during 2020. However, the decision by the government to accelerate 5G deployment will trigger investment in the Chinese market.
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