China is not showing any sign of a slowdown in building up a national 5G network, even when the coronavirus outbreak has shattered the global supply chain. Huawei expects that by the end of this year the country will be home to more than half of the world’s 5G base station and have more than 70% of 5G subscribers worldwide, local media Yicai reported citing the world’s largest telecom equipment maker.
The total number of 5G base stations will range between 600,000 and 800,000 by the year’s end, according to an estimate by Wei Lepin, a director of the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
On the one hand, Huawei, got caught up in the Sino-US trade tension, has been pinning much hope on its domestic market for 5G contracts; on the other hand, the country, in the wake of an epidemic outbreak that shutters its businesses, is betting on infrastructural investments, which also include plans for 5G, to ramp up an already slowing economy even before the outbreak hits.
In a recent 5G equipment procurement bidding for China Mobile, Huawei, alongside two other companies, was given the contract to supply the facilities. Huawei is the biggest winner in the bidding as the company was awarded more than 50% of the contract.
Still, the coronavirus outbreak is casting a shadow on the national 5G project. “In the short term, the progress of 5G construction will definitely be affected by different requirements of provinces and cities on the resumption of work and personnel flow, but in the medium and long term, the intensity of 5G construction and its role in promoting the industry will be greater,” said Yang Tao, Huawei’s Vice President of Carrier Business Group of China.
Though it started later than the US, South Korea, and many European countries in major 5G launches, China is the largest mobile market in the world and is expected to become the biggest 5G market by connections by 2025.