Rural 5G solved: 60 MHz @700 shared network

The China Mobile/China Broadcast network has enough bandwidth will have enormous capacity, more than enough for likely demand for many years. Zhang Yunyong of China Unicom believes duplicating that network is wasteful. He made the request at China’s major political event, the Two Sessions. China Unicom’s main 5G network is a joint build with China Telecom, which will presumably support sharing.

Germany, UK, & Australia have advanced programs to share rural towers and backhaul. 1 network is cheaper than 2; 2 cheaper than 4. The Chinese have allocated 60 MHz, compared to the 20 MHz/channel elsewhere. Zhang believes that will save about $30 billion in construction and $3 billion yearly in operating costs including power.

Zhang believes the number of base stations required for 700MHz in a wide coverage scenario is 1/5 of 2.6GHz, 1/6 of 3.5GHz, and 1/9 of 4.9GHz. Using the 700 MHz would allow 400,000 cells to deliver near-total coverage.

The Chinese model is especially efficient because the government has made a wide band of low-frequency spectrum available. Bandwidth demand in low density/rural areas is low and congestion rare. Sharing is natural.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, the carrier with the largest network opposes sharing to maintain an advantage. But it is the natural and often the only way for the best rural coverage.

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