China Mobile to dominate 700MHz 'golden frequency' band
On March 25, in announcing its 2020 annual results, China Mobile revealed its plans to acquire more than 400,000 700MHz base-stations with China Broadcasting Network Co., Ltd (CBN) in 2021. The construction will be completed in the 2021-2022 period.
The rollout of 4G networks based on 700MHz spectrum was once regarded as a key trend in the global commercialization of mobile communications. Marked by the joint construction and sharing of 700MHz by China Mobile and CBN, China's 5G construction is advancing towards the goal of achieving full coverage of urban areas, counties, and key towns across the country.
With its good communication characteristics, the 700MHz frequency band is regarded as the golden frequency band for the development of mobile communication services. Although its capacity is not large, as a low frequency band it has the advantages of low propagation loss, wide coverage, strong penetration, and low network cost, and these advantages are particularly prominent in the 5G era.
In granting 5G licenses, China Mobile and CBN have opted to jointly develop a 700MHz 5G network. In March 2020, the 700MHz frequency band's 2×30MHz large-bandwidth technical solution formulated by CBN was adopted and included in the 5G international standard, becoming the world's first low-frequency band and large bandwidth 5G international standard.
The 700MHz frequency band is a traditional feature of the television broadcasting system. On April 2, 2020, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a notice to adjust the usage plan of the 700MHz frequency band, enabling it to be used for 5G communications. The adjusted 700MHz frequency band usage plan is compatible with international mainstream solutions.
Most countries in the world have completed or are in the process of making terrestrial TV "analog-to-digital conversion" in the 700MHz frequency band, and using the released spectrum for mobile communication systems with higher spectrum utilization.
The domestic mobile communication industry has formed a relatively complete network equipment and terminal industry chain in this frequency band, and has the conditions to switch from traditional TV broadcasting services to mobile communication services.
China Mobile and CBN announced a 5G co-construction and sharing agreement in May 2020. On Jan. 26 this year, China Mobile's subsidiary China Mobile Communication Co. Ltd. signed a series of agreements with CBN on behalf of China Mobile's 31 provincial branches, reaching a comprehensive consensus on specific issues such as construction, maintenance, marketing and settlement. The two parties plan to make a joint effort on 700MHz network investment and construction on a 1:1 ratio.
On March 10, China Mobile and CBN jointly launched the "700MHz Terminal Ecosystem Co-construction Plan" with industrial partners, calling on the terminal industry chain to upgrade frequency band capabilities, giving specific technical requirements for 5G terminals of various categories to support the 700MHz frequency band.
China Mobile's prediction of the mobile phone market capacity in 2021 is that the total sales of mobile phones in China's domestic market will reach 350 million, of which total sales of 5G mobile phones should reach 280 million, and the total sales of 5G mobile phones in China Mobile's network will exceed 200 million.
After signing the co-construction and sharing agreement, China Mobile has set a timetable for the popularization of 5G 700MHz terminals. Starting from March 1, 2021, new terminal equipment (the mobile phone, etc.) worth 4,000 yuan and above must support the 700MHz frequency band; From Oct. 1, 2021 onwards, all new terminals at all price levels must support 700MHz.
Wang Zhiqin, vice president of China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, emphasized that network construction is the cornerstone of 5G commercial use and business development, which requires huge investment. Adhering to precise and intensive network construction and continuous reduction of network construction costs are the strong guarantee for the stability and long-term development of 5G.
"In 2021, China will scientifically and prudently propose the goal of building another 600,000 5G base stations to achieve deep coverage in cities above prefectural level," he added.
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