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China consulting on mmWave for 5G as operators step up investment

China consulting on mmWave for 5G as operators step up investment

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has opened a consultation on using millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum to launch 5G networks.

The ministry has called for feedback on the planned use of the mmWave bands thought likely to be significant to the future of 5G, including the 24.75GHz to 27.5GHz and 37GHz to 42.5GHz bands. The consultation will conclude on 7th August.

In early June, the ministry confirmed that China would be using the 3.3GHz to 3.6GHz and 4.8GHz to 5GHz bands to offer 5G services. The country’s government is laying out its strategy for using specific frequencies in order to expedite 5G deployments. This year, China will begin second stage 5G network tests at 30 sites, with wider testing lined up for 2018. Commercial 5G is unlikely to launch before 2020.

China’s three major operators are stepping up their 5G investment, with investment bank Jefferies forecasting that the big three - China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – will spend 50% more on 5G infrastructure across the next seven years than their anticipated expenditure on 4G over the seven year period between 2013 and 2020; a combined $180 billion on 5G as against an estimated $117 billion on 4G.

Jefferies equity analyst Edison Lee said: “The impact of 5G on innovative consumer and business services on the mainland will be significant, as all three telecoms network operators will likely build out aggressively from 2019.”

The investment bank predicts that there will be 588 million 5G subscribers in China by 2022. At the end of March this year, China had 830 million 4G users, and this figure is expected to surpass 1 billion by the end of 2017.