China’s three carriers to invest $5b in 5G networks in 2019 Published: 2019/3/22 14:49:03

China’s three major telecoms operators forecast a total investment of about 34 billion yuan ($5 billion) in 5G networks in 2019, reflecting a cautious attitude, as industry analysts predict investment in the next generation of wireless technology will be a long-term process.

China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom will continue deploying 5G networks, with a total investment less than 34.2 billion yuan, which is in line with their pragmatic and cautious strategies, according to media reports on Friday.
As 2019 is a crucial year for further development of 5G, China Mobile is expected to establish between 30,000 to 50,000 base stations while maintaining almost the same spending level as that in 2018, the reports said. 

China Telecom unveiled its 5G budget of 9 billion yuan this year. In 2018, it has established over 1,000 5G base stations in 17 cities in the country, and forecast to see about 20,000 base stations this year, with an expanded network trial scale. 

Carriers must first follow a reasonable speed in network construction while controlling overall spending to avoid excessive costs in 5G networks, Li Zhen, an industry expert at Beijing-based CCID Consulting, told the Global Times on Friday. 

“As a new technology, operations are intended to be more cautious about unknown business sectors,” he said. 

China Unicom will invest about 6 billion to 8 billion yuan in 5G networks in 2019, and its chairman Wang Xiaochu noted that it is not the time for massive investment as the industry needs to further explore business models. 

“5G investment will last 10 years, considering the investment speed in 4G,” an industry insider surnamed Huang told the Global Times on Friday. 

Meanwhile, a large scale of end use has not appeared, which will also weigh on profitability of operators, he said. “It’s a pre-commercial time for 5G, so it’s a pre-commercial investment model,” Huang added.

Global Times


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