Mobile Devices

China awards 5G licenses to 4 vendors as Huawei agrees to build Russia’s 5G network

07 June 2019

Just days after China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said it would issue 5G licenses soon, it did just that, handing out licenses to three state-run telecom operators and one broadcaster.

China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom were awarded licenses from the Chinese government along with broadcaster China Broadcasting Network Corp., according to Reuters. As a result, the communications companies can begin commercial deployment of 5G — the next generation of wireless technology.

China originally was scheduled to begin deployment in 2020 but with the MIIT handing out licenses now the process should accelerate. The move also gives a big boost to networking equipment and smartphone vendor Huawei Technologies, which has been stifled to find business after the U.S. blacklisted the Chinese vendor over fears its equipment might be used for spying.

Huawei said it would support the 5G buildout in China and has 46 5G commercial contracts in 30 countries so far, shipping over 100,000 5G base stations.

While China has yet to deploy a live 5G network, it is still one of the leading countries in 5G readiness with numerous pre-commercial deployments already underway in 2019. China has 14 wireless cell sites per 10,000 people, compared to 4.7 wireless cell sites in the U.S. China also boasts more than five sites per every 10 square miles compared to 0.4 sites in the U.S., according to a recent report from CTIA.

So far only the U.S., South Korea, the U.K., Switzerland and Australia have gone live with 5G networks worldwide.

Meanwhile, Huawei’s outlook improved as it signed a deal with Russian telecom MTS to develop 5G technology.

The agreement will see Huawei building the network over the course of 2019 and 2020. The agreement with Russia is an important win for Huawei, which is under intense scrutiny after the Trump Administration added the company and its affiliates to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List. This designation will make working with U.S. companies extremely difficult for the Chinese firm.

Australia and New Zealand also said they would not be using Huawei for 5G equipment and the U.S. put pressure on European allies to do the same. However, the U.K., Germany and France have not ruled Huawei out as a potential supplier.

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