The Chinese government is reportedly considering a merger of two state-run mobile operators in an effort to ensure that the country takes leadership in 5G networks.
According to Bloomberg, Beijing believes that the combination of China Unicorn and China Telecom would make it possible to invest more effectively than if the two would do so separately.
The proposed merger would create a telco with 590 million customers, making it the world's second largest mobile operator after China Mobile's domestic competitor, providing revenue and additional operational efficiency to accelerate deployment.
Both companies reportedly have no knowledge of a merger, which was touted early in the summer.
But the suggestion that China would take such a step, shows how the race to 5G is as good about politics as technology. 5G leadership would show a country a disproportionate role in development, especially in areas such as AI, and secure jobs and provide economic benefits.
Earlier this year, the US government blocked the proposed acquisition of Qualcomm by Broadcom, fearing that the latest lack of reputation for research and development (R & D) would transfer the initiative to Huawei, with headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
Huawei is also effectively frozen on the US market on national security grounds, while Australia has banned its telco's from the company's purchase set. And that is before you take into account the constant talk about a trade war between the US and China.
The first 5G networks will go live in the US later this year, and offer a broadband connection with fixed wireless access (FWA) to a number of major cities. The first 5G smartphones will arrive in 2019, with further implementations in Asia and Europe. The UK will see its first launch of commercial services, either in 2019 or 2020.