China considers merger of Unicom, China Telecom

07 September, 2018, 04:21 | Author: Leah Owens
  • Concerns that China could get the upper hand led to Donald Trump to block Broadcom’s bid to buy chipmaker Qualcomm in what would have been the biggest-ever acquisition in the technology industry

A combination of state-run China Unicom and China Telecom would create a company with more than 590 million mobile phone subscribers making it the world's second-largest wireless operator after China Mobile.

Chinese media has speculated on a possible merger, although executives at Unicom and China Telecom have played those down as recently as last month at their earnings briefings.

Speculation of a merger between the country's number two and three operators has circulated for years.

CT and China Unicom account for 19 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the 1.49 billion mobile phone users in China.

China wants top position in 5G market. The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, which oversees China's state-owned enterprises, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology didn't reply to Bloomberg's requests for comment. The new entity would compete with market leader China Mobile. Because new advances in technology typically pay huge dividends to the first mover, China apparently hopes to seize an advantage in shaping and controlling the development of 5G.

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Earlier this year, the U.S. government blocked the proposed takeover of Qualcomm by Broadcom, fearing the latter's lack of reputation for research and development (R&D) would see the initiative ceded to Huawei, which is headquartered in Shenzhen, China. China holds a narrow lead over the US and South Korea in 5G readiness, thanks to proactive government policies and industry momentum, according to a report by research firm Analysys Mason.

Huawei Technologies, the world's largest maker of equipment for networks, and ZTE were banned from selling their gear to a USA ally, Australia, which cited security concern.

Some observers believe the planned merger is also being driven by the intense competition between the United States and the worsening trade war between the USA and China, which is causing expenses to skyrocket. Conversely, leading the world in wireless brings significant economic benefits, as the USA has seen with its 4G leadership.

The United States will not get a second chance to win the global 5G race.

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