scorecardChina awards 5G licences to country's major telecoms network operators and cable network giant
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China awards 5G licences to country's major telecoms network operators and cable network giant

China awards 5G licences to country's major telecoms network operators and cable network giant
Tech2 min read
China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Thursday granted commercial 5G licences to the country's three telecommunications network operators and the nation's cable network giant, signalling major new investments in the world's largest mobile market amid a raging tech war with the United States.

Hong Kong-listed carriers China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, as well as China Broadcasting Network, were each awarded a licence to run commercial 5G services, according to MIIT.

Beijing had granted licences at the end of 2018 to China's three state-owned carriers to conduct 5G trials but this is the first time it has given the go-ahead for full commercial deployment.

The announcement has come amid speculation that the three network operators would be hard-pressed in pushing a large-scale 5G buildout after the US government put telecoms gear provider Huawei Technologies on a trade blacklist.

The US action has severed the access of Huawei, which has up to a 50 per cent share of China's telecoms equipment market, to American hi-tech suppliers, including semiconductor firms Qualcomm and Intel as well as software providers Google and Microsoft.

The award of commercial 5G licences is "more a posture by China to make a statement that 5G will not be delayed just because of the US export ban on Huawei, giving it more bargaining power and creating stronger internal political support" according to Jefferies equity analyst Edison Lee.

He said that MIIT's announcement may push the country's three telecoms network operators to accelerate their 5G mobile network roll-out plans.

That move would enable China to move ahead in the global race to deploy telecoms infrastructure that will help power the industrial internet, autonomous driving and smart cities, among a range of advanced mobile applications.

While South Korea, the US, Australia and the UK have launched initial commercial 5G services in the second quarter, the scale of China's market is likely to dwarf the combined size of those economies, negating any first-mover advantage.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia. For more stories, please download our mobile app, follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

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