China’s fourth state 5G carrier to open cellphone number registration in May

China Broadcasting Network (CBN), a new state-backed 5G operator, announced on Feb. 17 that it will start operating a new line of mobile network services from mid-May.

Why it matters: CBN is a newcomer to China’s telecom market and faces competition from three established state carriers (China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom). Compared to existing players, CBN has access to an extensive broadcast content library.

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  • The network is funded and overseen by the National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), China’s official media regulation agency. The government agency provides basic public broadcast services across the country, including to remote rural areas, allowing the network to access an extensive content library, a large user base, and tap into the agency’s existing infrastructure.

Details: CBN announced on Feb. 17 that it will start operating a new mobile phone number network from mid-May. It will issue cellphone numbers that begin with 192.

  • CBN tested its mobile network services via the 192 numbers with a small number of users last year.
  • The operator gained a radio bandwidth of 700 MHz N28 with a 5G license issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, one of China’s internet and telecom regulators.
  • CBN’s radio band is considered low-frequency, generally lower than 1 GHz or 1000 MHz, which tends to have broader coverage, better indoor range, and is cheaper to build. However, low frequency also has a slower transiting speed.

Context: Formed in May 2014, CBN was approved by the State Council, China’s cabinet, and funded by the state.

Of the three established Chinese telecom providers, China Mobile leads the 5G market with 386.8 million users, China Unicom follows with 187.8 million, and China Telecom has 154.9 million, according to C114, a Chinese media platform focused on the telecoms industry.


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