China speeds up 5G rollout for 2021
China will increase its 5G base stations by at least 600,000 in the next 12 months in a bid to accelerate its new network rollout, new reports reveal.
An estimated $20bn of investments in 5G infrastructure will be made in 2021 by Chinese operators and authorities who are dedicated to rolling out the new technology as quickly as possible.
Despite this monumental effort, the Asian superstate will have many years of development to come, because according to estimations by , president of the China Unicom Research Institute, complete 5G coverage in all regions will require approximately 10mn 5G base stations.
The network creation has provided China’s domestic vendors with a thriving environment following international sanctions that have seen many equipment contracts cancelled. Operators most heavily invested in the rollouts are China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, which have already collectively installed 700,000 5G stations in 2020.
Huawei and ZTE will continue to be primary vendor beneficiaries of 5G capex spending in China. Ericsson and Datang Mobile will also manage a minor portion of the 5G radio access network (RAN) spending. Nokia withdrew from the Chinese 5G RAN due to low margins but is still participating in the 5G core deployments.
, China’s minister of industry and information technology said operations were based on co-construction and network sharing, in combination with the development of 5G applications for 10 unspecified industry verticals and the potential release of some millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum for 5G services.
Currently, China Telecom and China Unicom share their 5G RAN rollouts and further asset-sharing between the operators may soon be forged. China Telecom and China Unicom collectively invested $11bn on shared 5G infrastructure in 2020 and ended the year with an estimated 400,000 5G sites. Meanwhile, China Mobile invested $15.2bn on 5G networks in 2020 and ended the year with approximately 330,000 5G sites.
China is steaming ahead globally in terms of 5G subscriber volume too, with the investment of operators reflecting subscriber uptakes. By the end of November 2020, the nation announced it had seen a rise from 114mn 5G customers in June, to 147.4mn 5G customers, equating to 15.5% of its total mobile customer base of 943.7mn. China Telecom reported that almost 23% (79.5mn) of its 351mn mobile subscriber base had become 5G customers by November last year.
However, China Unicom, which has a total mobile customer base of 307mn subscribers, has yet to release its 5G customer numbers. Until November 2020, the operator counted 5G subscribers with its 4G users – a total of 269mn.
According to reports from the China academy of information and communications technology show, China's shipped 144mn 5G phone units from January to November 2020. This accounted for 51.4% of total phone shipments last year.
China’s swift adoption of 5G will also increase demands for electronic and battery metals. The new generation of phones requires high-efficiency power amplifiers that run on gallium arsenide or gallium nitride. The need for increased power to run 5G applications is also driving firms to produce larger lithium-cobalt batteries.
Verizon’s 5G adoption rises as Q2 success hits record high
Verizon has reported record success in the second quarter of 2021 caused by an increase in the adoption of its 5G phone service, customer and sequential wireless service revenue growth, and network reliability. The company revised its revenue and adjusted EPS guidance upward for the full year as a result.
Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO of Verizon, said: “We are executing on our multipurpose network strategy and producing positive results in each of our five growth vectors, recording strong second-quarter results. With more connections on our network than anyone else, our already excellent network performance improved in the quarter and was recognized by RootMetrics as the best overall network performance for the 16th time in a row. We are also expanding our 5G Ultra-Wideband and 5G Home markets”.
He added that that the company “is excited about its momentum leading into the second half of the year”, and that it is “on track” to close the Tracfone and Verizon Media transactions.
Verizon’s Q2 2021 highlights
- US$1.40 in earnings per share (EPS); adjusted EPS*, excluding special items, of US$1.37.
- Operating revenue of US$33.8bn, a result of strong sequential wireless revenue growth.
- Net income of US$5.9bn and adjusted EBITDA* of US$12.2bn.
- Total wireless service revenue of US$16.9bn, a 5.9% increase year over year, and a 4.0 percent increase from second-quarter 2019.
- Total retail postpaid churn of 0.94 percent, and retail postpaid phone churn of 0.72 percent.
- 528,000 retail postpaid net additions, including 275,000 phone net additions, resulting in 121.3mn total retail connections.
- Total revenue of US$23.5 bn, an increase of 11.2% year over year, and an increase of 6.7% from second-quarter 2019.
- Total retail postpaid churn of 0.83%, and retail postpaid phone churn of 0.65 percent, a record-low retail postpaid phone churn outside of second-quarter 2020 and third-quarter 2020, which were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 350,000 retail postpaid net additions, including 197,000 phone net additions, driving 5G-phone adoption to approximately 20% of Consumer wireless phone customers and step-ups to premium unlimited plans.
- 92,000 Consumer Fios Internet net additions. The company's trailing 12-month total Fios Internet net addition performance is the highest since 2015.
- Total revenue of US$7.8bn, an increase of 3.7% year over year, and relatively flat from second-quarter 2019.
- Total retail postpaid churn of 1.30%, and retail postpaid phone churn of 1.07%.
- 178,000 retail postpaid net additions, including 78,000 phone net additions.
“Second quarter results were exceptional, both financially and operationally,” said Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis. “Our strong first-half performance and the momentum in our business gives us the confidence to raise our total wireless service revenue growth guidance to between 3.5% and 4%, an update from prior guidance for 2021 total wireless service revenue growth of at least 3%. We are also raising our adjusted EPS guidance* to the range of US$5.25 to US$5.35, an update from prior guidance for 2021 adjusted EPS* of US$5.00 to US$5.15”.
Also in Q2, Verizon came to an agreement with Apollo funds to sell Verizon Media, the expected close date being in the second half of 2021. Following this, the Verizon Media business classified certain assets as “Held for Sale”, which the company no longer depreciated or paid off. According to Verizon, this led to a partial quarter benefit of three cents per share in Q2, which will continue as a benefit until the deal is closed.