China Telecom repurposes 800MHz spectrum for 5G expansion

The Chinese regulator MIIT has given China Telecom permission to re-farm its 800MHz spectrum for 5G, allowing it to access the highly sought-after sub-1GHz airwaves.


China Telecom has received approval from China’s regulatory body, MIIT, to use its 800MHz spectrum for 5G deployment. This decision aligns China Telecom with its two competitors, enabling them to utilize valuable sub-1GHz spectrum for 5G services. Compared to mid-band and millimeter wave frequencies, the coverage and propagation of this lower-frequency spectrum are better. The decision was anticipated since China Unicom had already been permitted to use its 900MHz 2G spectrum for equivalent purposes in November 2022.

China Mobile, the dominant player in the market, has already started implementing its 5G network on the 700MHz band in collaboration with China Broadnet. China Broadnet, which has a valuable digital dividend spectrum, is supported by the cable TV industry and has had access to the spectrum since 2016. The Chinese regulatory authority, MIIT, intends to improve the quality of 5G coverage in towns, rural areas, and remote regions. They aim to provide stronger support regarding radio spectrum resources to facilitate the high-quality development of 5G technology.

According to the ministry, as of 30 June 2023, the four major operators in China have collectively deployed 2.9 million 5G base stations, which accounts for about 60% of the global total. However, Chinese authorities have not disclosed specific information regarding the extent of population coverage in the 5G rollout or the number of base stations in rural areas.