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Telecom company ramps up 5G efforts

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-14 07:16
A visitor to the first China-Central and Eastern European Countries Expo, which was held in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, experiences 5G enabled VR equipment. [Photo/Xinhua]

Shortly after winning a 5G commercial license a week ago, China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, has started arguably its biggest effort so far to invite bids for network construction and smartphone testing.

China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, has started accepting bids for the first phase of its 5G buildout in 2019, with the project's pre-estimated price set at 19.26 billion yuan ($2.79 billion).

The forecast price exceeded the investment size of roughly 17 billion yuan China Mobile said earlier that it could pour into 5G this year, signifying that the company has ramped up the push to roll out the superfast network, analysts said.

According to the Beijing-based company, it has released a notice on its official bidding website on June 10, detailing the requirements for the first phase of its 5G wireless network project in 2019.

Just one day later, China Mobile said on the same website that it will buy 10,100 smartphones from five domestic manufacturers for 5G testing, marking its biggest 5G smartphone order so far.

That also means an accelerated step by China Mobile to promote 5G smartphones, as the company previously noted in a white paper that its plan was to buy more than 10,000 5G smartphones and other terminals in July.

The company told China Daily that these smartphones which include 5,000 units from domestic leader Huawei are for experience testing for some users, and will not be sold to the public.

An exhibitor interacts with a 5G robot at the China Mobile stand in the expo. [Photo by zhang Yongtao / for China Daily]

Meanwhile, according to research company Nomura, China Mobile has awarded its first round of 5G network equipment contracts after China officially granted a 5G license to it on June 6. The company aims to offer 5G commercial services in 40 cities by September.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said the moves highlight that China Mobile has a sprawling subscriber base, and it is relatively better funded with cash compared with its rivals.

Major telecom carriers China Unicom and China Telecom also said they are aiming to cover at least 40 cities with 5G services by the end of this year.

But amid the current enthusiasm for the next-generation wireless technology which will power applications such as autonomous driving, some professionals and analysts also give some suggestions.

Zhao Aiming, deputy head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, which regulates State-owned enterprises including telecom carriers, said at a recent conference that network operators should avoid repetitive investments in 5G and pay attention to the potential risks in industrial development.

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