Report: Chinese operators to build over 1 million 5G base stations in 2021

Shanghai China

Chinese telecom carriers are likely to build over 1 million new 5G base stations in 2021, as the cost of 5G base stations is expected to go down next year, according to Chinese press reports that cited a Chinese telecom expert.

According to estimates from Wu Hequan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, the total number of 5G base stations in China could reach more than 1.7 million by the end of next year.

Wu said that despite the outbreak of COVID-19, Chinese operators have managed to deploy over 600,000 new 5G base stations this year, in addition to about 100,000 5G base stations built in 2019.

Local carriers already provide 5G coverage in all Chinese cities at prefecture level and above.

“As the construction of 5G networks accelerates, the cost of building each 5G base station will go down. Even if Chinese telecom carriers earmark the same amount of 5G investments in 2021 as they have done this year, they can build far more 5G base stations next year than this year,” said Wu.

“I believe Chinese telecom carriers will build more than one million 5G base stations next year, though the specific construction targets will have to wait for the telecom carriers’ official announcements,” Wu added.

Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies expects 5G users to account for 20% of total mobile users in China and South Korea by the end of June 2021, Ryan Ding, president of Huawei’s carrier business group, said during a presentation at the company’s Global Mobile Broad Forum, which took place last month in Shanghai, China.

In June 2019, 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 China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and state-owned broadcaster China Broadcasting Network.

Large cities including the capital, Beijing, and Shenzhen already have full 5G coverage and 5G deployments are also accelerating in Shanghai.

China Mobile, the world’s largest operator in terms of subscribers, added 15.2 million 5G subscribers in October, the telco said on its website.

The operator said it ended October with a total of 128.8 million 5G subscribers, compared to 6.7 million 5G customers in January.

The carrier has already deployed 385,000 5G base stations nationwide, according to recent press reports.

Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, reportedly said that the carrier finished its annual 5G network build-out targets ahead of schedule and has built the world’s largest 5G SA network.

Meanwhile, rival operator China Telecom added 7.06 million subscribers in October to take its total 5G subscribers base to 71.86 million. The operator has attracted 67.2 million subscribers in the 5G segment since the beginning of the year.

China Unicom hasn’t revealed its 5G numbers.