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2020-08-04 1 ENGLISH REPORTS
We see increasing global 5G connections and penetration driving the telecom capex upcycle. CS’ global telecom team forecasts wireless capex to grow 4%/3% in 2020/21E and expects wireless equipment market to grow at 4%/3% in 2020/21E. Our China telco research team estimates 12%/2%/0% capex growth for 2020/21/22E for China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, and China Tower, respectively, in aggregate. The total capex remains significant, reaching Rmb365 bn+ in 2020/21E (including China Telecom). We also expect 5G capex to account for over 50% in China from 2020 onwards.
Among the major markets, China is the largest, with estimated 50% of the global 5G BTS to be installed. We anticipate 2020 to be the key inflection point for 5G where capex is expected to recover in China by 12%. China has built ~130k 5G BTS in 2019, among which China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom built 50k/40k/40k respectively. According to operators’ guidance, China Mobile will newly build 300k, and China Unicom and China Telecom will newly build ‘Co-built, Co-share’ 250k 5G BTS in 2020. Our supply chain check suggests the eventual number is likely to beat guidance. According to MIIT, the coronavirus outbreak in China will not impact the full-year target, and 80% of planned BTS sites construction will be completed by Feb-2021. We estimate 613k/885k/1,021k 5G BTS net adds in 2020-22E, constituting a promising demand for the supply chain.
3GPP announced freezing R16 on 3 July 2020, delayed by three months due to the COVID- 19 outbreak, such that 5G standalone (SA) network and device standard have been finalised. We expect the eventual migration from 5G NSA to SA by operators to come in 2H20. Therefore, 5G roll-out is expected to accelerate in 2020-22E. According to industry estimates, total 5G BTS shipment will be 1.1-1.5x of 4G BTS. China built 5.74 mn 4G BTS by end-2019. Given the substantial pressure on operators’ capex, operators will possibly increase coverage density only in hot spot regions, so we have made a conservative estimate that China will build 6.31 mn 5G BTS (1.1x of 4G BTS) in total in the 5G era, and the whole roll-out period will last at least seven years. We estimate 12.62 mn 5G BTS (2x of China) will be built globally, with a similar China/global ratio in the 4G era.
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