Apparently seeking to demonstrate even greater patriotism than their larger contemporary, the other two Chinese MNOs went big on domestic vendors for their 5G rollout.
Neither company seems to have made any formal announcement of their own, with the information originally channelled through the paywalled Shanghai Securities, then reported on by Sina Tech. We are once more indebted to our China correspondent for an accurate account of what was reported.
The long and short of it is that China Telecom and China Unicom, having decided to pool their 5G network resources last year, jointly put out a bunch of 5G RAN business for tender. Huawei and ZTE between them accounted for 88% of the business, an even greater share than they won of China Mobile’s 5G work in its recent tender. Ericsson got most of the rest, which puts it in a similar position across all three giant Chinese MNOs.
The split between Huawei and ZTE doesn’t seem to have bee published but we do know that out of the 250,000 base stations included in the tender, 110,000 will be built by China Unicom and the rest by China Telecom, at a cost of CNY 32.27 billion. Additionally, the total spending of CNY 76 billion ($10.6 billion) by all three operators equals 42% of the three operators’ total 5G CAPEX budget for the year.
Once more Nokia was totally frozen out of the process, leading some to ask whether Nokia’s 5G business may be finished (pun opportunity missed there, alas) in China. The linked piece goes on to note that things may be a lot better on the fixed line side and that may be a reason for the RAN snub. Who knows?
While the UK and EU set out their positions with respect to ‘high risk vendors’ earlier this year, the coronavirus pandemic probably means all bets are off and China knows it. It would be very surprising if this global crisis, combined with China’s stated economic expansionist ambitions, don’t result in greater restrictions on the participation of Chinese interest in foreign economies. In response China will strive to be as autonomous as possible and a global Balkanisation is the inevitable result.