A staff member
tests the speed
with a Huawei
5G mobile phone.
A staff member tests the speed with a Huawei 5G mobile phone.

China's four major telecom firms are planning to spend 197.3 billion yuan (about USD 27.8 billion) on 5G technology in 2020 as the country seeks to deploy "new infrastructure" projects to offset the economic impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Leading telecom operator, China Mobile, plans to invest around 100 billion yuan in 5G-related projects this year, more than 4 times the volume seen in 2019. China Unicom puts the 5G investment at 35 billion yuan, China Securities Journal reported. China Telecom will invest 45.3 billion yuan in 5G this year, while China Tower will pump around 17 billion yuan to the sector.

China greenlighted the commercial use of the superfast wireless technology in June last year, triggering a surge in consumer enthusiasm and an acceleration in industrial investment.

The hefty investment came as the government has pledged to accelerate the construction of new infrastructure such as 5G networks and data centers to combat downward pressure on the economy.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Tuesday that it will support telecom operators to expand standalone 5G network coverage and capacity.

The country will also cultivate new consumption models, speed up the migration to 5G, and promote the development of "5G plus medical health," "5G plus industrial internet" and "5G plus car networking," the MIIT said.

China Telecom’s revenue in red

China Telecom, one of the country's leading telecommunications operators, reported drops in its profit and operating revenue last year despite an increase in service subscribers.

The net profits attributable to shareholders reached 20.52 billion yuan (about 2.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2019, down 3.3 per cent year on year, the company said in its annual financial report.

The operating revenue stood at 375.7 billion yuan, slipping by 0.4 per cent from the previous year. The company's mobile subscribers totaled 336 million by the end of last year, a net increase of 32.57 million. Among its subscribers, 83.8 per cent were 4G subscribers.

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Free Press Journal