China Mobile, the world’s largest operator in terms of subscribers, had a total of 188,000 active 5G base stations across the country as of the end of June, the company’s chairman Yang Jie said in a presentation.
This network allowed the carrier to offer 5G services in over 50 cities across China, he said.
China Mobile ended June with a total of 70.2 million 5G subscribers. The company’s overall mobile subscriber base was reported as 947 million, up 1.3% year-on-year.
The operator’s net profit declined 0.5% year-on-year in the first half to CNY55.7 billion ($8 billion), with operating revenue growing 0.1% to CNY389.8 billion. Telecoms service revenue rose 1.9% to CNY358.2 billion, while mobile ARPU fell 3.7% to CNY50.30; and average mobile data usage per user/month rose 39.7% to 8.6GB.
“At present, the world is experiencing a global health crisis. Although COVID-19 has come under control in China, it has created serious repercussions for economic and social development. Yet, we believe that crisis and opportunity always appear at the same time. The actions taken as a response to COVID-19 will catalyze and accelerate a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation, that will further the digitalization of both the economy and society,” the executive said.
China Mobile has been accelerating the construction of its 5G SA core network with the aim of launching commercial 5G via this network architecture before the end of the year.
In April, China Mobile awarded most of a CNY37.1 billion 5G contract to compatriot vendors Huawei and ZTE, according to previous press reports. Huawei won 57.3% of the value of contracts across 28 provinces, with ZTE taking 28.7%, Ericsson 11.5% and China Information Communication Technologies 2.6%.
In the new phase of its 5G program, China Mobile was looking to acquire over 232,000 5G base stations as it looks to extend coverage to 28 regions across China.
The Chinese carrier is aiming to have a total of 300,000 5G sites across China by the end of 2020.
In its first tender, conducted in 2019, the operator selected Nokia and Ericsson as well as Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE.
In May, China Mobile had signed a 5G network sharing agreement with China Broadcasting Network (CBN), giving the market leader access to the TV provider’s 700 MHz spectrum.
The companies confirmed that they would jointly fund and deploy a network over the 700 MHz frequency. This will enable China Mobile to improve its coverage using fewer base stations than with its 2.6 GHz network, particularly in rural regions across China.
Under the terms of the agreement, CBN will have access to China Mobile’s 2.6 GHz network and will also receive guidance and investment from the mobile operator. This will allow CBN to deploy its commercial 5G network more rapidly, significantly reducing its projected investment costs.
“We will continue to push forward with the cooperation plan and nail down the execution details,” Jie added.