China Unicom, together with rival telco China Telecom, deployed approximately 150,000 5G base stations across China in the first half of the year, the former said in its earnings statement.
“Currently, China Unicom deployed a total of approximately 210,000 5G base stations in service, of which China Unicom built more than 100,000 base stations, providing contiguous coverage in more than 50 major cities,” China Unicom said in its earnings release.
“In the first half of 2020, the company maintained focused deployment while closely collaborating with China Telecom to advance ‘co-build co-share’ of 5G network. It successfully doubled the 5G network deployment pace and capability, achieving 5G network scale, coverage, and quality as comparable with the leading operator [China Mobile] ,” China Unicom said.
In September 2019, China Telecom and China Unicom inked an agreement to cooperatively build a 5G mobile network, with the main aim of reducing costs.
China Unicom estimated its 5G base stations would reach 300,000 by the end of this year, covering all prefecture-level cities.
China Unicom Chairman and CEO Wang Xiaochu said that the operator would probably launch its 5G standalone (SA) service in the last quarter of 2020.
China Unicom’s net profit in the first half of the year grew 10.1% year-on-year to CNY7.57 billion ($1.1 billion), while service revenue increased 4% to CNY138 billion.
Mobile service revenue fell 2.8% to CNY76.5 billion, while equipment sales were flat at CNY1.25 billion.
China Unicom’s mobile subscriber base declined by 14.8 million to 309.5 million, while ARPU fell 6.5% to CNY42.90. The operator did not specify its number of 5G subscribers.
Total network capex in the first half of the year was CNY25.8 billion, up from CNY22 billion in H1 2019.
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.
According to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, 5G technology is expected to create more than 8 million jobs in China by 2030.
It is forecasted that 28% of China’s mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025, accounting for about one-third of all 5G connections globally, according to a report by the GSMA.
Chinese operators will build 800,000 5G base stations and have more than 200 million 5G subscribers by the end of 2020, Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei’s Wireless Network Solutions unit, recently during an industry conference .
The executive said that 5G subscribers in China would represent 70% of the global subscriber base by end-2020.
China now has 400,000 5G base stations and 100 million 5G users, said Yang.