Chinese government urges telcos to boost coverage in underserved areas

Chinese government urges telcos to boost coverage in underserved areas

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MIIT’s chief engineer said that Chinese telcos need to accelerate 5G deployments outside of urban areas to better address underserved populations

SHANGHAI – Officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) urged Chinese mobile operators to focus on boosting coverage in underserved communities across the country, with the aim of spreading the adoption of digital services. During a presentation at MWC Shanghai 2023, taking place this week in Shanghai, China, CAC’s director Zhuang Rongwen noted that the industry should work to expand network coverage in rural and remote areas across China with the main goal of closing the digital divide.

“We shouldn’t neglect these communities and populations. The digital gap is something we should give more importance to by providing better and faster services,” he said.

Meanwhile, MIIT’s chief engineer Zhao Zhiguo said that Chinese telcos needed to accelerate the deployments of 5G networks outside the urban areas of the country to better address underserved populations. “All key technologies should be better deployed in rural areas to narrow the digital divide,” he said.

China is expected to deploy 600,000 new 5G base stations during 2023 to reach 2.9 million at the end of the year, according to a recent report by Omdia.

The research showed that Chinese mobile operators had deployed 2.3 million 5G base stations as of the end of last year. According to the latest available statistics from the Chinese government, the country currently has nearly 2.7 million 5G base stations.

The report also highlighted that the rapid deployment of 5G networks in China is chiefly due to co-building and co-sharing agreements signed by the domestic carriers.

Also, the country’s four major mobile operators — China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom and China Broadnet — recently announced the launch of what they claimed as the world’s first 5G inter-network roaming service trial. The service enables customers to access other telecom operators’ 5G networks and continue using 5G services when outside the range of their original operators’ 5G network.

According to a previous GSMA report, dubbed “The Mobile Economy China 2023”, 5G technology will add $290 billion to the Chinese economy in 2030, with benefits spread across industries.

“Mainland China is the largest 5G market in the world, accounting for more than 60% of global 5G connections at the end of 2022. With strong take-up of 5G among consumers, the focus of operators is now increasingly shifting to 5G for enterprises. This offers opportunities to grow revenues beyond connectivity in adjacent areas such as cloud services — a segment where operators in China have recently made significant progress,” the GSMA report reads. Also, 5G will overtake 4G in 2024 to become the dominant mobile technology in China, according to the report.


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