MIIT of the Chinese Government released "A Notice Regarding Promoting the NB-IoT Development" earlier this month.
By the end of 2017, China will have 400,000 NB-IoT base stations and achieve NB-IoT connections of over 20 million in total and NB-IoT coverage in the main cities according to the notice.
Building 400,000 NB-IoT base stations this year should be no problem for China's three major operators.
China Telecom plans to have constructed world's largest NB-IoT network by June this year including 300,000 NB-IoT base stations.
Some experts argued that it is because of the 2G 900MHz network shutdown and the high investment in 1800MHz deployments that China Unicom will build NB-IoT base stations at a relatively low speed. Some estimated that the company will build less than 800,000 NB-IoT base stations in the whole year of 2017.
Thus, the construction of 400,000 base stations won't be a problem for China in 2017 and the target is very likely to be over-fulfilled if China Mobile vigorously develops NB-IoT.
Analysis on China Mobile NB-IoT construction mode
It is rather complicated for China Mobile to construct NB-IoT when compared with China Telecom and China Unicom.
China Mobile should build new FDD base stations or upgrade its 2G network mode, but the operator hasn't gained FDD license while NB-IoT is relevant to FDD.
Insiders pointed out that China Mobile should upgrade the GSM base station board from the perspective of saving investment for one station just needs investment of 30,000-50,000 renminbi; however, speaking of spectrum utilization efficiency, the strategy above is not economical, and China Mobile hopes to make high-quality spectrum of 4G/5G use.
Thanks to the inherent technical features of NB-IoT and the coverage gain brought by low-band deployments, China Mobile just needs to upgrade or build nearly 300,000 base stations to achieve NB-IoT coverage in all the main cities and districts in China.