By Joseph Waring
China Unicom chairman and CEO Liu Liehong highlighted the vast financial and energy reductions a 5G network built jointly with China Telecom had delivered to date, placing the total combined capex savings at US$33 billion.
Liu boasted the shared network also saved the operators US$3.1 billion in opex and 17.5kWh of electricity in 2021. Jointly operating 690,000 5G base stations across China reduced carbon emission by 6 million tonnes, or the equivalent to planting about 3.3 million trees.
China Telecom president Li Zhengmao pegged its total capex savings at US$16 billion and opex reduction at around US$1.6 billion a year.
He noted after partnering with China Unicom, its 5G coverage and speeds doubled, highlighting each operator’s core network runs independently for differentiated operation of services.
Li added by sharing resources the two were able to quickly build the world’s largest shared standalone 5G network, covering all cities and some developed townships.
The number of shared 5G base stations in service is expected to rise by 300,000 to nearly 990,000 by the year-end.
Senior adviser at GSMA and former China Mobile chairman, Wang Jianzhou noted in his presentation the focus at MWC Barcelona 2022 shifted to efficiency and coverage from previous attention on bandwidth and speeds.
He noted operators were looking at ways to expand 5G coverage at a more reasonable cost rather than using large volumes of spectrum including mmWave to achieve ultra-high speeds.
“This year there was growing interest in deploying 5G with low- and mid-band spectrum,” as these support wider coverage at relatively lower costs, with attention on the 700MHz and 600MHz bands.