Wei Leping of MIIT predicts, "In 2020, the country will reach 600,000 to 800,000 base stations deployed." Given the early results of 5G 2.5 and 3.5 GHz radios, I estimate 5G will cover at least 500,000,000 people and probably many more. The main areas of the largest 50 cities will be covered. 

5G phone prices will drop toward US$300 in 2020 according to both Huawei and China Mobile. The gap between 4G phones and 5G phones will drop toward US$50 or less. At those prices, it's reasonable to expect that many of the 300,000,000+ phones sold in China in 2020 will be 5G.

This estimate of 5G expansion may be low. Minister Miao Wei has urged the companies to accelerate. Wei Leping also projected 80,000 to 100,000 for 2019. Nomura's expectation for 2019 is 172,000, which seems more likely based on the limited information available.

The entry of China Broadcasting into 5G will also spur the telcos to go quickly.

dave ask

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Samsung has delivered 5G chip samples to BBK's Oppo and Vivo, the #2 or #3 phones manufacturer. Samsung is facing off against Qualcomm in the 5G market. Qualcomm is unfazed and reportedly moving the production of their next chip from TSMC to Samsung. 

Sprint's 2.5 GHz 5G is delivering 100-500 megabit downloads consistently. That bodes well for China Mobile, using the same frequencies.

Vodafone, BT, and soon 3UK are delivering modestly sized 5G mid-band networks. Vodafone is also live in Spain and Italy. 

Sunrise in Switzerland is using 5G mid-band for fixed wireless in rural areas.  

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Welcome  1,000,000 Koreans bought 5G in the first ten weeks. The demand is there, and most of the technology works. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while reducing capex. Deutsche Telekom and Orange/France Telecom also confirm they won't raise capex.

Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 3X to 7X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Carrier Aggregation, 256 QAM, and other tools double and triple that. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year.

Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less.  I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

Believe it or not, 80+% of 5G (mid-band) for several years will be slower than good 4G, which is more developed.