China's 4th-largest telecom operator launches nationwide commercial 5G network services
Published: Sep 27, 2022 09:24 PM
Staff members work at an exhibition booth during a media preview of the 2022 World 5G Convention in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Aug. 9, 2022. The 2022 World 5G Convention will be held here from August 10 to 12.(Photo: Xinhua)

Staff members work at an exhibition booth during a media preview of the 2022 World 5G Convention in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Aug. 9, 2022. (Photo: Xinhua)

China Broadcasting Network Corp (China Broadnet), the country's fourth-largest telecom operator, officially launched commercial 5G network services in Southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region and Northwest China's Qinghai Province, expanding its 5G services to all 31 provincial-level regions, the company disclosed on its official WeChat account.

Compared with the other three major operators, China Broadnet has the advantage of owning the 700 mHz band, which is often dubbed as the "golden frequency" compared with other frequency bands like 3.5 GHz and 2.6GHz.

Both China Telecom and China Unicom received 100mHz in the 3.5GHz band, while China Mobile obtained 160mHz in the 2.6GHz band and 100MHz in the 4.9GHz band, information revealed by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed.

Xiang Ligang, an independent tech analyst, said that compared with other spectrums, the 700mHz band has wider coverage and smaller propagation loss, which means that the cost of building a 5G network deployment in this band would be much lower compared with other spectrums.

"Almost all of China's areas could be covered by 5G networks by building about 500,000 700 mHz 5G base stations. For the 3.5GHz spectrum, operators must build many more base stations to achieve nationwide 5G network coverage," Xiang told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Compared with China's forceful push for 5G network deployment, the speed of US 5G construction has been much slower, and one reason is that US telecom operators fail to manage key 5G spectrum bands as smoothly as companies in China do, analysts said.

According to a Reuters report, US officials have asked US telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications to delay the planned introduction of new 5G wireless service on January 5 over aviation safety concerns. 

The Reuters report noted that the two companies had accused the US aerospace industry of seeking to hold C-Band spectrum (a radio frequency band between 3.7 and 4.2 GHz) deployment "hostage until the wireless industry agrees to cover the costs of upgrading any obsolete altimeters."

According to Xiang, a large amount of C-band and other spectrums suitable for developing 5G commercial services are controlled by the military or technology departments, which make medium bands very scarce for 5G. 

Also, the US uses the auction model for telecom companies to get 5G bandwidth, which means that companies often pay a hefty price for wireless spectrum licenses but don't have enough money to actually build the 5G infrastructure, Xiang noted. 

Telecom companies bid a combined $81 billion on frequencies in the C-Band, noted.

Because of costs and other problems, the US lags far behind China in the speed of building 5G base stations. Data from showed that China built about 2.12 million 5G base stations between 2019 and 2021, while the US only built about 160,000 during the period. 

However, Xiang noted that China Broadnet's rollout of commercial 5G won't exert too much influence on China's general 5G landscape, as China Broadnet's user base is limited compared with other leading telecom operators like China Mobile. 

China Broadnet has announced a special discount campaign that gives its customers 40 percent off when buying 5G packages this year. 

Global Times