July 02, 2019

MWC Shanghai 2019 - 5G Small Cells Ready for Commercial Deployment

By Joyce Zhang

Chinese network operators are preparing to commercially deploy 5G small cell equipment, targeting an expected 80,000 small cells during the next six months, according to industry sources and hardware suppliers at the MWC Shanghai conference last week.

5G Small Cell Vendors Gearing Up
All Chinese network operators -- China Mobile Ltd. (941 HK), China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. (762 HK) and China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (728 HK) -- are preparing to commercially launch 5G small cells during 2H19, according to four sources at MWC Shanghai, who said the operators are expected to install around 80,000 units this year. Four sources estimated total demand from Chinese network operators for 5G small cells could reach 9.5 million units by 2024. Companies that presented ready to launch 5G small cells were H3C Technologies Co. Ltd., Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., Nokia Corp., Ericsson LM, ZTE Corp. (763 HK) and Ruijie Networks Co. Ltd.

During the three-day event, Comba Telecom Systems Holdings Ltd. (2342 HK) released a 5G small cell solution using Intel Corp.'s CPU and FPGA -- based on a cooperation with Intel and China Mobile to use China Mobile's network infrastructure for the deployment.

5G Devices Ready for Commercial Use by 3Q19
Sources said attractively priced 5G handsets and mobile hotspots are being readied for commercial use in China by 3Q19. A network operator source said, “I think 5G handsets are ready for commercial use as most 5G phones are priced between 3,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan -- quite attractive for mobile users.” 

5G devices displayed at Chinese operators’ booths included Nokia’s FastMile 5G FWA gateway as well as Huawei’s CPE Win router and ZTE’s 5G indoor CPE router.