China issues 5G spectrum licences for indoor coverage

The Chinese government has granted new licences to mobile operators to share spectrum for 5G indoor coverage. China Telecom, China Unicom and China Broadcasting Network (CBN) will share the 3.3–3.4 GHz spectrum for 5G, and co-develop and share 5G indoor access networks to cut costs and boost efficiency.

This assignment follows previous awards that have put Chinese operators in an enviable position as they each hold a minimum of 100 MHz of exclusive mid-band 5G spectrum. As a result, they are well-placed to deliver a good mix of 5G coverage and capacity. While the licence conditions in the new award are not ideal, as they mandate sharing and indoor-only use, this was a pragmatic decision given the operators each already hold good amounts of exclusive mid-band 5G spectrum, and the need to protect other spectrum users. The promotion of network sharing will also help reduce unnecessary duplication of 5G infrastructure inside buildings, saving costs and helping speed up rollouts.

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