china mobile

Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson win China Mobile 5G contracts

03 April 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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China Mobile has awarded contracts valued at US$5.2 billion to Huawei, ZTE and Ericsson for the build out of 232,143 base stations to support the ongoing roll out of its 5G network.

Huawei took the largest share of work with 57.2% of the contract by number of base stations. ZTE will be responsible for 28.7% and Ericsson – the only foreign player after Nokia’s unsuccessful bid – will complete 11.5% of the work.

Chinese company CICT will take on the remaining 2.6% with the majority of the base stations to be built before year end.

Work began in 2019 when China Mobile appointed Ericsson and Nokia 6% each for phase one construction. Nokia was not awarded further work under the most recent China Mobile contract, however along with Ericsson it will provide a package of products and services to deliver 5G in France, including antennas and associated professional services.

The news from China followed the release of Huawei’s annual financial results earlier this week, which saw the Chinese tech giant post a 19.1% increase in sales to total $123 billion.

Net profit stood at $9 billion, up just 5.6% on 2018, and fact rotating chairman Eric Xu attributed to the ongoing US embargo.

Delivering the results, Xu said the Chinese government “will not stand by and watch Huawei being slaughtered on the chopping board”.

He added: “If the US government can arbitrarily change the rules that would be the destruction of the global technological ecosystem.”

When it comes to handsets, Huawei launched its new, non-android handset last month, which doesn’t feature any Google apps or services.

“Due to [US] government restrictions, Google’s apps and services are not available for preload or sideload on new Huawei devices,” said Tristan Ostrowski, legal director for Android and Play at Google.

ZTE launched its latest 5G handset on 23 March, the Axon 11 5G. It follows in the footsteps of the Axon 10 Pro 5G and Axon 10s Pro 5G.

China’s 5G ambitions

Following the commercial roll out of 5G services in China on 31 October last year, the country has made no secret of its wider technological goals.

The permits to build 5G networks are allocated by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIT), which to date has granted permits to China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and state-owned broadcaster China Broadcasting Network.

Currently, China Mobile’s 5G services cover 50 Chinese cities supported by a network of around 50,000 base stations – the lion’s share of the 86,000 base stations operational when China’s 5G network launched.

China Mobile counted 15.4 million 5G subscribers at the end of February 2020, up from 2.55 million in December of last year. China Daily recently reported its target to end 2020 with 70 million 5G users.

With its new base stations, China Mobile can now extend coverage to 28 new regions and GSMA estimates that by 2025 more than half of China’s mobile connections will be 5G, making it one of the largest 5G networks in the world.