In by far the largest sharing deal in history, China Telecom and China Unicom will jointly build a 5G network with over 1,000,000 base stations. 80,000 base stations were planned for 2019 between the two companies, about 400,000 in 2020.

1 network is cheaper than 2 and 2 networks are cheaper than the 4-7 usually required for competition to work its magic. The Chinese government decided the cost of the third network was wasteful and directed the companies to work together. Zhao Aiming of SASAC urged, “The three operators should take the initiative to undertake national tasks and further strengthen cooperation to avoid repeated investment in 5G.”

No one has publicly estimated coverage, but 400,000 bases should serve the heart of most cities. China Tower has over 2 million cells, most of which will be covered by the pair. The announcement spoke of saving $30B in two years. In 2021-2023, it will probably be extended to cover well over 90% of China with 5G and an Edge Network serving more than a billion people.

The typical speed may or may not be more than the 100-500 Mbps down of the other 5G builds. 5G in 200 MHz will provide over 5 Gbps to share. CU & CT can provide a true gigabit to many if that's how they design the network.

They will have 200 MHz of contiguous spectrum at 3.5 GHz, double what every carrier except Sprint and China Mobile are using. The 5G standard only provides for 100 MHz, but Huawei has modified the standard to take advantage of China Mobile's 160 MHz and presumably of this 200 MHz.

Sharing isn't new. CFO Ron Dykes told me his network and another saved hundreds of millions just in New York City by working together.(Can you guess when that was?) 

MIIT has told the carriers to "accelerate" their 5G. But it will be a monstrous job coordinating two networks of this size, which would normally take more than a year. Doing better than that would require a miracle. 

The Chinese telcos delivered several miracles.

dave ask


Rethinking Jan 27: Coronavirus could invalidate all projections. I reported on AIDS for 2 years. This could be worse because it spreads in air. Let us hope and pray.

Details on all 5G phones, as prices drop to $285 ** All actual 5G networks worldwide ** Facebook ordered to repost Italian fascist page. ** Apple China sales down 35%** Qorvo sees 300M 5G 2020 & 750M 2023 mmWave <10%

** Bharti demands India Gov more than double prices and enforce cartel. Sunil Mittal "Situation is dire. It is a matter of survival for everyone." ** Wi-Fi 6 meets ITU 5G criteria @stephenjcrowley ** Samsung $8B for Chinese memory plants ** Morgan paying billions for Altice fiber

Dec 10 Sprint bringing $300-500 5G phones to US 2020. Nokia, Lenovo, HMD ** H., Apple, and AMD doing 5 nm test runs on TSMC's 5 nm. Early results are 15-30% better than 7 nm ** AT&T low-band 5G built to >65% US. Speeds slower than 4G at launch. ** 

Verizon CEO Ronan Dunne: >1/2 VZ 5G "will approximate to a good 4G service" Midband in "low hundreds" Mbps ** CFO John Stephens says AT&T is going to cut capex soon. ** Huawei in 16 days sold 1,000,000 5G Mate 20s.  


Welcome  Asia is installing hundreds of thousands of 5G radios and adding 5G subs by the tens of millions. The west is far behind. 200,000,000 in 2020

The demand is there, and most of the technology works. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

I'm Dave Burstein, Editor. I've been reporting telecom since 1999. I love to hear from readers and say thank you when you find an error.

Also see,