Bottom line: China’s telcos won’t accelerate their 5G network building even if licenses are issued earlier than expected this year, though foreign equipment suppliers could benefit if Huawei is hobbled by the US-China trade wars.
What a difference a decade makes. That’s about how long has passed between China’s issuing of 3G wireless licenses and the upcoming issue of 5G licenses two generations later. I remember in the 3G era how China dragged its feet forever, and finally issued licenses several years after the rest of the world. This time around it appears to be moving more quickly, driven by what appear to be political and economic factors.
The topic has popped into the headlines again this week with word that China’s telecoms regulator will “soon” issue 5G licenses. (English article) The signals coming from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) have been pointing to a release of licenses this year all along. But this could mean that will happen sooner rather than later, since many were previously expecting licenses toward the end of the year. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: China Mobile’s first-ever drop in 4G subscribers in April owes to the company’s early arrival to the space, and reflects the broader market’s maturation that is also adding similar pressures to Unicom and China Telecom.
Much ado is being made about new data from the three big telcos that includes a first-ever drop in 4G subscribers for industry heavyweight China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL). This particular first seems to have been a long time coming, and really shouldn’t surprise anyone too much. The fact of the matter is that China’s mobile market has been nearing saturation for a while, and the nation’s big 3 telcos have been increasingly stealing customers from each other for the last two or three years as the number of unserved users dwindles.
The bigger question raised by this data is what the slowdown could mean over the longer term, when China Mobile and smaller peers Unicom(HKEx: 762; NYSE: CHU) and China Telecom(HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHA) might see slow or negative growth in subscriber terms. The answer to that question is that this trio will be able to feast on their protected home market for many years to come, though they may be forced to innovate a bit more in order to get a tapped-out audience to keep paying more for services. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Hong Kong-listed “Red chip” stocks like Lenovo and China Telecom could eventually make secondary listings in China under a new CDR program, but will be forced to wait behind higher-profile Internet names like Alibaba.
With all of the major IPOs for the week now in the history books, as most of the world takes a vacation for Good Friday, I thought I’d close out the week here in China with yet another angle on the China Depositary Receipt (CDR) program that is creating lots of buzz. Regular readers will know this is a reference to China’s planned take on the popular American Depositary Receipt (ADR) program that lets companies with a primary listing in one market make secondary listings in another one.
Lots has been written these last couple of weeks about how the CDR program could let U.S.- and Hong Kong-listed tech giants like Alibaba(NYSE: BABA) and Tencent(HKEx: 700) make new secondary listings in China, which they couldn’t do before. But today we’re getting the first few peeps about similar homecomings from top executives of a group of Hong Kong-listed companies known as “red chips”, which are major Chinese firms that are currently barred from listing at home. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: A bevy of signals from Beijing indicate China will roll out 5G networks around 2020, in step with major Western markets, providing a boon for telcos, equipment sellers and Internet companies.
After years of watching China following years behind the West in rolling out its next-generation wireless networks, there are growing signs that the country intends to be a leader rather than a laggard with upcoming 5G service. The latest signal in that drive is coming from the country’s state planner, which has just announced that five or more cities will start to build rudimentary 5G networks starting next year.
All this may sound quite boring for many of my readers who are more interested in high-tech companies than stodgy telecoms carriers. But it really has huge implications for not only China’s big 3 telcos, but also the nation’s booming Internet industry that will become the direct beneficiaries of 5G networks that offer data speeds that are well ahead of what you can get from current 4G technology. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: China Telecom’s aggressive bidding for a government contract highlights its more entrepreneurial style, while Unicom’s latest announcement on its private ownership plans reflects it conservative, bureaucratic style.
Two of China’s trio of wireless telcos are in the news today, reflecting an effort by Beijing to breathe some life into these laggard state-run behemoths that always seem unable to realize their potential. The first headline has China Telecom (HKex: 728; NYSE: CHA), the smallest of the nation’s 3 carriers, making an aggressive bid to essentially provide services for free to a government agency in northeast Liaoning province. The second has Unicom (HKEx: 762; NYSE: CHU), the second largest carrier, disclosing some more details on its plan to introduce some private capital to the company. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: China Telecom, Unicom and China Broadcasting Network could share the costs of a 5G network to lower costs, while China Mobile is likely to construct a network on its own.
As earnings season reaches a crescendo, wireless carrier China Telecom (HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHA) is raising an old theme by saying it might consider sharing resources with someone else in building a next-generation 5G network. This particular topic first surfaced more than a year ago when China Telecom and rival Unicom (HKEx: 763; NYSE: CHU) studied the possibility of sharing 4G resources, even though they ultimately each built their own networks. (previous post)
The interesting twist this time is that Beijing is rolling out a program to inject private capital into the telecoms sector, meaning perhaps China Telecom and the other telcos could be allowed to pick private-sector partners for their 5G networks. Another interesting wrinkle comes in the form of a fourth state-run telco that was assembled from the nation’s many cable TV companies last year and would probably like to have its own telecoms network. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: China’s VNO program appears to be gaining momentum heading into its third year, and could reach the 200 million subscriber mark by the end of 2017.
It’s been more than a year since I last wrote about China’s fledgling attempt to breathe new life into its telecoms services sector by creating virtual network operators (VNO), mostly because the program seemed to be sputtering in its first couple of years. But new data from the telecoms regulator seems to suggest the industry may finally be finding its legs, and could be starting to take some meaningful market share from the nation’s monopoly of 3 big state-run telcos.
The headline figure underpinning my assertion is 43 million, which appears to be the number of VNO subscribers in China at the end of last year. (Chinese article) I need to give a quick disclaimer here, as nowhere in the article is the term VNO or variant MVNO used to describe this sector, which is called the “mobile resale business”. But that term, combined with a description of the program, does seem to indicate that these are VNO subscribers. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: China Telecom’s sale of several key entertainment assets to a separately run and listed unit reflects the company’s more dynamic nature compared with its 2 peers, as it tries to create services that can compete with private-sector rivals.
China Telecom (HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHA) is showing once more why it’s a telco to watch, with word that it’s formally spinning off 4 of the main entertainment businesses on its main E Surfing platform to one of its independently run and listed units. In this case the telco is spinning off the four to its fully-owned but separately managed Besttone Holdings (Shanghai: 600640) unit, in what looks like a bid to make these services more competitive with private sector rivals. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Chinese companies need to become more proactive in ending practices that harm consumers, or risk facing pressure from regulators and hurting their prospects for expansion abroad.
A campaign requiring all mobile phone users to register with their real names was in the headlines for much of last week, in the latest step to curtail rampant phone fraud in China that has grabbed recent attention due to several high-profile cases. Notably, the real-name registration drive was led by 6 government ministries, rather than the nation’s 3 major wireless carriers whose networks are the primary platform for committing most of the fraud.
Both the government and carriers have known about this kind of fraud for years, but did little to aggressively tackle the problem until the recent wave of negative publicity. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on September 22. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
Alibaba Takes Lead in China Digital Ad Market, Baidu Drops to Second (press release)
Postal Savings Bank of China IPO Raises $7.4 Bln After Pricing at Low End (English article)
China Telecom (HKEx: 728) to Close Accounts Without Real Name Registration (Chinese article)
Sony (Tokyo: 6758) Close to Motion Picture Alliance With China’s Wanda (English article)
Filing Shows Smartisan Value Drops By 500 Mln Yuan in Half Year (Chinese article)
Bottom line: China Mobile and its peers could take a big hit to their voice call revenues as they roll-out anti-fraud systems to counter negative publicity, while Alibaba could suffer similar but smaller impact to its pre-paid phone card business.
The same week it officially lost its crown as China’s most valuable listed company, China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL) is back in the headlines with more bad news related to a swell of publicity involving the nation’s rampant phone fraud. Normally I might dismiss this story, since phone fraud has been common in China for years and is really nothing new. But another similar case this year ended up becoming a huge headache Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), and cost the online search giant huge sums in both market value and lost revenue. Read Full Post…