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China and Korea gear up for their first 5G auctions this year

China and South Korea, expected to be among the first countries to have wide-scale 5G deployments, have provided some details of their upcoming auctions.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) says it will award some 5G licences in the second half of this year, or early 2020 at the latest, mainly in 3.5 GHz.

Wang Zhiqin of MIIT, who is also a VP of China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, revealed the timescales, saying this would enable China to fulfil its aim of being one of the first 5G nations.

China now has just over 1bn 4G customers and is predicted by CCS Insight, in a study for the GSMA, to account for over half of 5G customers in the world by 2022, or almost half a billion.

In neighboring South Korea, a forthcoming auction will award spectrum in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The Ministry of Science and Technology said recently: “We have conducted simulations on various scenarios for auction, and gathered opinions from related organizations, mobile carriers and manufacturers.”

A key decision is how to allocate the maximum amount of spectrum that each of the country’s three operators can purchase. The regulator has not yet decided whether it will impose a spectrum cap on total holdings, or split 5G spectrum equally between the three MNOs.

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