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


Vivo is selling new the iQOO 5G premium quality phone for US$536.

Lei Jun Xiaomi "5G to have explosive growth starting from Q2 2020"5G to have explosive growth starting from Q2 2020" I say sooner

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.

Bharti in India has lost 45M customers who did not want to pay the minimum USS2/month. It's shutting down 3G to free some spectrum for 4G. It is cutting capex, dangerous when the 12 gigabytes/month of use continues to rise.

Huawei in 16 days sold 1,000,000 5G Mate 20s.  

China has over 50,000 upgraded base stations and may have more than 200,000 by yearend 2019. The growth is astonishing and about to accelerate. China will have more 5G than North America and Europe combined for several years.

5G phone prices are down to $580 in China from Oppo. Headed under $300 in 2020 and driving demand.

No one believed me when I wrote in May, 90% of Huawei U.S. purchases can be rapidly replaced and that Huawei would survive and thrive. Financial results are in, with 23% growth and increased phone sales. It is spending $17B on research in 2019, up > 10%. 

5G phones spotted from Sharp and Sony

NTT DOCOMO will begin "pre-commercial service Sept 20 with over 100 live bases. Officially, the commercial start is 2020.

 More newsfeed


Welcome  1,800,000 Koreans bought 5G in the first four months. 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.