China’s newest licensed operator China Broadnet has launched a 5G mobile offering.
Officially named China Radio and Television, the state-backed operator was created by merging local cable and television broadcasters. It was issued a 5G licence in June 2019 before being formally inaugurated in 2020.
Rather than competing with China’s ‘Big Three’ directly, the operator is attempting to position itself as a converged media provider that will leverage its 5G network for interactive broadcast and TV services. Xinhua news agency described China Broadnet’s integration of 5G into its cable offering as a “breakthrough” that will allow the operator to deliver AR and VR services alongside a mobile network.
Until earlier this month, China Broadnet was operating as China Broadcasting Network Corporation (CBN) as well as China Radio and TV. Following its rebrand, the operator has claimed that its 5G launch will “speed up the development of a new-type radio and TV communication network, a national cultural network, and a national, new-type infrastructure network.”
TeleGeography noted that China Mobile is deploying, operating and maintaining China Broadnet’s 5G network, which operates on the 700MHz frequency band. Both providers will have access to the network, while China Broadnet has been granted temporary wholesale access to China Mobile’s 4G and 2600MHz 5G networks. The extent of this cooperation may raise competition concerns, although it should be noted that China Broadnet’s market share is currently far smaller than those of rivals China Unicom and China Telecom.