How China Plans to Allocate 5G Spectrum ?

China’s Ministry of Industries and Information Technology (MIIT) plans to allocate a total of 500MHz of spectrum for 5G. Although this is only similar in total spectrum size to the current 2G/3G/4G allocation for the three Chinese telcos, which is 507MHz, the major difference is that the 5G spectrum being planned is contiguous spectrum (300MHz contiguous spectrum between 3300 and 3600MHz, and 200MHz contiguous pectrum between 4800-5000MHz), while the current allocation is split into small parcels between 800MHz and 2600MHz. The ITU suggested a minimum contiguous spectrum size of 100MHz for genuine 5G services, and it is very difficult for most countries to find such spectrum at a low frequency level (below 3GHz). That is why 5G will, in most cases, take place at a higher frequency level and become more expensive to build than 4G networks.

China will spend at least 48% more on 5G than on 4G, mainly because 1) 5G in China will operate mostly at 3GHz to 5GHz, which requires many more base stations to provide the same coverage as 4G. All three telcos [China Mobile / Telecom / Unicom] will likely build out aggressively starting from 2019, and China Mobile will likely achieve nationwide coverage by 2021 yet will continue to expand rural coverage.

For the 700MHz spectrum, since it has been allocated to SAPPRFT for broadcasting purpose, it is technically “unavailable” or considered “not free.” Therefore, it does not become part of the “available” spectrum being planned. However, it is believed that Unicom will be able to reach an agreement with SAPPRFT, which will give it access to the latter’s 700MHz spectrum in exchange for an equity stake in Unicom.

The entire Chinese Economy is “No ordinary disruption” – a Global Force and India is unlikely to achieve that scale and size despite an opportunity knocking at its door as the current regime wasted fruitful 36 months of its term in Politics well known and understood by itself.

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