In a few months, China will have more 5G sites than the entire western world. "Michael Gao Wenhao of ZTE told China Daily that by Oct 1, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom will each deploy 30,000 to 50,000 base stations in some 40 cities." Alex Cheng of China Mobile confirmed the story.
From other sources, I know that China will very rapidly go first to 1,000,000 bases and after that to 2,000,000. 90%+ of the country will soon be covered. The Politburo has decided that a great Internet will help the economy. Minister Miao Wei told the companies to do it.
No one should be surprised by the size of the rollout. In January, I reported the Nomura estimate that China will have 172,000 sites in 2019.
Deployment is now well begun and set to accelerate in June. This is confirmed by the volume of components being shipped to China.
Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE are the suppliers. By informal government mandate, Ericsson and Nokia would each get about 10% of the orders, part of a political deal reached with the EU a few years ago. Huawei and ZTE have orders for 100,000 radios in hand.
Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri told investors he decided not to participate because the prices would be too low. That Nokia gave up on the enormous China contract was startling, leading to speculation that Suri's true path forward was to sell the company to either Ericsson or Samsung. There is no confirmation that is the actual plan.
The networks will all be 2.5 GHz to 4.9 GHz midband. The likely real speeds will be 100-500 megabits down, with a gigabit peak widely advertised. China Mobile has particularly valuable spectrum at 2.5 GHz, with better reach than the 3.5 GHz the other two carriers will be using.
Google news does not have any U.S. or European coverage yet, but I have multiple sources.