China Telecom has received approval from China’s regulatory body, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), to re-farm its 800 MHz spectrum for 5G deployment.

China Telecom now joins its two competitors, allowing them to use the valuable sub-1 GHz spectrum for 5G services. Compared to mid-band and millimeter wave frequencies, the coverage and propagation of this lower-frequency spectrum are much greater.

The decision was expected since China Unicom had already been given the chance to use its 900 MHz 2G spectrum for equivalent purposes in November 2022.

China Mobile has already started implementing its 5G network on the 700 MHz band in partnership with China Broadnet, which is supported by the cable TV industry and has had access to the spectrum since 2016.

MIIT said in a statement that it intended “to improve the coverage quality of 5G in towns, rural areas and remote areas, and increase the support of radio spectrum resources for the high-quality development of 5G.”

As of June 30, the four major operators in China had deployed 2.9 million 5G base stations, accounting for around 60% of the world’s total, according to the ministry. However, Chinese authorities have not disclosed specific data regarding the population coverage of the 5G rollout or the number of base stations in rural areas.

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