back to article 50,000 5G base stations built. 4.4 million to upgrade. 935 million customers to upsell

China Mobile today published its 2019 annual report, revealing the extraordinary scale of the business and its ambition to do better beyond China’s borders and in the cloud. The numbers first. The company has revealed it has: 950 million mobile customers, although the influx of 25 million new customers was rather lower than …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this an advert

    Or what passes for journalism now?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Is this an advert

      We'll probably see more breathless rewriting of turgid annual reports - news is a bit thin on the ground right now.

      However, I think it makes a very useful point about the overwhelming scale of the Chinese economy and, indirectly, the notions of people like Ian Duncan-Smith who think Britain is in a position to decide which companies are graciously "permitted" to supply our market.

      1. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Is this an advert

        FWIW my focus is now covering Asia and this kind of story is a way for me to introduce the region's big players to readers.

        As I was writing it I knew that it was not going to be searing analysis. But I felt it worthwhile introducing readers to China Mobile with something like this, rather than starting to cover its news without background.

        And I feel that describing the sheer scale of a company like this, and its growing offshore ambitions, is useful information to readers given the rapid economic and geopolitical shifts in the world today. Its not just Huawei that will make waves!

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: Is this an advert

          Perhaps some perspective is needed on a few of the figures - subscribers is easy enough as most folks know the population of their country. Masts, however, are less appreciated. China Mobile seem to have more 5G masts in their network(s) than the UK has masts for all technologies (struggling to find a definitive & publicly available source to reference, but most estimates when you Google it max out at around 40k in the UK for all networks in the country - my personal knowledge is that at least 2 of the largest networks in the UK had less than 10K sites each as of a couple of years ago)

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Thanks China, but no thanks

    As much as I am willing to trust Huawei in the utter and complete absence of any proof of spook-enhanced manipulations, I will not trust a Chinese telecoms operator with my phone contract.

    Sorry, but if you honestly think that Huawei can be pressured by Beijing, then the last thing you want to do is trust China Mobile. Not to mention that logging on to its services will probably have your phone download some Beijing-approved surveillance app, "for your safety". And that you might find your SMSs filtered because of course they will be.

    So no thanks, China. I already have enough surveillance with the NSA illegally hoovering up my calls while I can do nothing about it. I'm not going to subscribe to the Eye-of-the-Middle-Kingdom surveillance service on top of that.

    1. crayon

      Re: And that you might find your SMSs filtered because of course they will be.

      And why would they do that?

      If you use a non-mainland China issued SIM inside mainland China you will not be subject to any restrictions, ie you can access sites that are normally blocked. Eg if you buy a SIM card in HK, even if they're issued by China Telecom/Mobile/Unicom, you can use it in mainland China without restrictions or filtering.

  3. Ochib

    Meanwhile

    The towers in the U.K. are being torched.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile

      There was a delightful response from a scientific advisor on this stupid trend - along the lines of "if someone with COVID-19 licked a 5G mast, and you then came and licked the mast where they licked, then you might be able to say you caught COVID from 5G - otherwise not"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile

      Yes, but apparently for the wrong reasons. In my state, municipalities have been told that they have to accept, review, and approve/deny 5G tower/"thingie" installation requests within 30 days of submittal and with the tsunami of applications (our state governor has opened his arms and mouth wiiiiide for 5G) there is simply no way to properly vet how the installers will, for example, repair cut sidewalks or pavement, provide for safe pedestrian/ cyclist passage, and/or hew to the aesthetic requirements of historic neighborhoods (as other utilities must). So the result is a willy-nilly clusterbubble of badly repaired ("repair" being generous) pavements, shoddily-finished work, and other crap that the installers can not be arsed to correct, and municipal officers do not have the time/resources to oversee (and this was before coronavirus/ covid work-from-home restrictions). So, a bit conflicted: 5G will make tele-medicine and other useful things more possible/better, but I would not mind seeing the 5G operators getting a bit more ... guidance (with a lead pipe) ... in how to respectfully encroach into public space.

  4. ivan5

    First question

    The first question should be 'does 5G improve telephone calls? If it doesn't then why bother with it?

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: First question

      Why bother? Mainly because it's not aimed at voice calls but rather high bandwidth data. Beyond the initial "my shiny is better than your shiny" use case at initial roll out, there's domestic broadband offerings to those hard-to-reach places. The base station can tune a fine beam of rf to a small group of houses and give them decent broadband much cheaper than running copper or even fibre to the premises, or installing an exchange closer to then.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: First question

        True, but. It all depends on what 5g spectrum you're using. Some spectra have a much faster bandwidth but have a difficult time penetrating walls or traveling long distances. Others can penetrate walls and travel long distances but at the cost of bandwidth (sometimes to the point where 4g is faster). It's a question of horses for courses which you will rarely see in company press releases or ads.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: First question

          Also true, but 3 & 4G both use wide beams (120°) from the site. 5G can use very narrow ones which gives performance gains. Suspect 5G in 700MHz band offers better than LTE performance in some scenarios

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: First question

      Did colour improve TV programs? If not why bother.

  5. Vulture@C64

    Interesting to once again note the scale of engineering in China. Vast majority of UK population won't have a clue how much of a financial threat China has become. And I mean that in a sensible way - they can make anything, at any scale, cheaper and faster than any other country.

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