How China Broadnet Aligned Business Strategy With Green Development

Kevin Casey

March 9, 2023

4 Min Read
How China Broadnet Aligned Business Strategy With Green Development
Environmental technology concept. Sustainable development goals. SDGs.

Sustainability has become a significant priority for the mobile sector, including an industry-wide plan led by GSMA to achieve a net-zero emissions footprint by 2050.

While this is a concern for every global citizen, it’s especially relevant in the communications business – the ICT sector accounts for approximately 1.4% of global carbon emissions and 4% of electricity consumption worldwide, according to GSMA. As an industry, it can have massive positive impacts for energy sustainability and climate action.

Such efforts must run in parallel with widespread rollouts of 5G networks and services, as well as the increasing “cloudification” of the telecom sector. That at first might sound challenging, but innovative operators are turning it into an opportunity – not only to grow revenues and launch new services, but also to accelerate their green initiatives.

This trend took center stage recently at the Huawei Day 0 Forum: Green ICT Development Summit. The event featured several operators and other industry leaders sharing their organization’s sustainability actions and best practices.

Among them was China Broadnet, an integrated media, information and technology firm with several competitive advantages – and with several key challenges as well. Its strengths included its depth and breadth of licenses and certificates, its robust networks, and its high-quality users across home, business, and public segments.

The company also had to tackle several critical challenges, including a decline in its traditional services business (such as cable TV), a saturated mobile market, and a 700 MHz ecosystem in need of modernization.

Qizhu Song, Chairman of China Broadnet Group, shared with the summit audience his firm’s approach to green development – and how its paving the way not just for a greener future but also ensuring the company’s competitive strengths going forward. Song said the firm knew it needed to quickly roll out a new 5G network – but that it faced prohibitive investment costs, long time to deployment, and the limitations of the 700MHz ecosystem.

“The initial investment was huge, and CBN [knew it] must seek a more economic way to build a 5G network,” Song said.

That led the company to consider working with existing operators to become faster and more efficient in its 5G rollout. It partnered with China Mobile on network sharing, which enabled them to achieve nationwide 5G coverage within six months. It was the largest co-construction and network sharing project ever, according to Song. China Broadnet subsequently hit 6.5 mobile subscribers in early 2023 as a result.

“Cooperating with China Mobile, we drew on each other’s strengths and achieved a win-win,” Song said at the Green ICT Development Summit.

It’s more than a 5G success story, however: It’s also an example of how business goals and green initiatives can be tightly aligned.

Network sharing and simplification not only sped up the expansion of CBN’s 5G coverage; it also enabled a “green native” network – something Song described as a green development best practice for the mobile sector.

To better understand that alignment, it helps to break it down into three bucks: network sharing, 700 MHz refarming, and network simplification.

The shared network is the key speed factor: CBN and China Mobile launched 3.65 million shared 4G/5G sites in six months, including the co-construction of 480,000 net-new 700MHz 5G base stations.

700MHz refarming is one of the key green factors: Releasing the 700MHz DTMB spectrum improved spectral efficiency by 30% and enabled a native green network. This process covered approximately 6,000 stations and 10,000 channels.

Network simplification contributes to both: By taking a platform architecture approach, CBN and China Mobile created an agile, asset-light operation of a nationwide network and nationwide cloud with highly efficient 5G service provisioning.

The end result: The world’s largest and most successful shared network, covering 1.4 billion people – and producing net-zero carbon emissions.

And that’s just the beginning of the story. Song also shared the future outlook for CBN, its partners, and its customers. With the nationwide 5G network and cloud in place, the company plans to develop 50 million new mobile users in the next three years. It’s also fully committed to the network sharing model, with plans to scale up 700MHz 5G sites for better coverage, including in remote areas.

It’s a model that’s likely to draw interest from other operators – what’s good for the bottom line can also be good for the world.

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