Shenzhen, a city in South China’s Guangdong Province known as the “new Silicon Valley” for its role as a base for Chinese high-tech companies, announced Monday that it has finished its 5G network deployment. This makes it the first city in China to offer the next generation of wireless networking at full scale, despite an intensifying China-US technology war.
The city had deployed more than 46,000 5G base stations as of Friday, Mayor Chen Rugui said during an industry event Monday. Industry observers said that the number of 5G base stations in the city puts its 5G deployment on par with the entire European continent.
China and South Korea are the global frontrunners when it comes to 5G deployment, while the US has fallen behind, Wang Zhiqin, deputy director of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), said at the event.
As of the end of June, China had deployed more than 410,000 5G base stations across the country, and it will roll out 500,000 new ones by the end of 2020, a CAICT report said. As of the end of July, the total number of 5G users in China had surpassed 88 million, accounting for more than 80 percent of the global 5G user base and ranking the country No.1.
As the world’s leading 5G equipment provider, Huawei has become the driving force in helping deploy 5G networks in China, although the company has faced increasing and relentless US attack.
However, in spite of efforts by Washington to force its NATO allies including the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland to reject Huawei, the Chinese company remained the largest 5G gear provider, with a market share of nearly 40 percent in the first quarter of 2020.
“The latest progress signaled that China has become highly advanced in 5G deployment with total base stations rolled out in one city exceeding the overall number of many countries,” Jiang Junmu, chief writer at telecom industry news website c114.com.cn, told the Global Times Monday.
The full-scale coverage of the 5G network in Shenzhen is the first commercial citywide standalone network, which would be indispensable for various application scenarios, Jiang said.
Some Chinese netizens hailed the full-scale deployment of the 5G network in Shenzhen, which is home to tech companies including Huawei, Tencent and DJI, even as those countries were put on a sanctioning list by the US government as part of the US-initiated technology war against China. “This is a significant step for China in further advancing its technology, especially in the face of the US attack,” a netizen said.
“The number of 5G base stations in one Chinese city has surpassed the total number of 5G base stations in Europe. That’s China’s speed!” another remarked.
Huawei has been playing a vital role in supporting the latest development of China’s 5G network deployment. Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said in a keynote speech Monday that at present, 92 telecom operators worldwide are deploying 5G commercial networks with the total number of 5G users now exceeding 100 million.
The progress in 5G deployment also showcased Huawei’s steady supply of 5G base stations, even though the US government has been beefing up sanctions on the Chinese company and putting some of its businesses like its smartphone manufacturing at risk.
Huawei’s Guo admitted on Monday that 2020 would be very difficult due to the coronavirus epidemic and external pressure, but the Chinese company will survive.
Some industry observers said Huawei has been gradually shifting its primary target from overseas to the domestic market, where 5G-related investment is estimated to reach billions of yuan in the next five years.
The US chipset export ban also has had a limited impact on supplies for Huawei in the 5G sector, or base station chipsets, Huang Haifeng, an independent telecom industry analyst told the Global Times Monday. “Also the demand for 5G base station chipsets is much less than the demand for smartphone chipsets,” he said.
Some observers believe that Huawei’s current inventory would be enough to ensure 5G network deployment across the globe in the next two years.