Now the virus is affecting China’s 5G rollout

Now the virus is affecting China’s 5G rollout

While much if the rest of the word is arguing about whether or not to partner with China for 5G rollouts, the expansion of 5G networks in China itself may be slowing – an unexpected victim of the ongoing Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

According to Reuters, a number of infrastructure deployment tenders have already been postponed, including auctions for six large 5G projects. These include a programme for industrial internet in Guangdong province and, slightly ironically, a healthcare project in Jiangxi province.

One thing that will come as no surprise is the loss of two key fibre manufacturers headquartered in Wuhan. This city, where the outbreak began, remains in lockdown.

The effect on supply chains is likely to be profound, unless it proves to be short-term, with base station antenna manufacturer Tongyu Communication one of the Chinese companies cited by Reuters as experiencing delays. Huawei, however, has reassured customers that it has enough components to cover production for the next few months or even half-year.

This outbreak is not all bad news for 5G. As we reported in late January, the giant Chinese equipment maker ZTE has highlighted the potential role of telecommunications in disease management – and specifically management of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China – with a number of coverage announcements that include plans to build China’s first new 5G system for remote diagnosis of coronavirus infection.

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