China Mobile and China Broadcasting Network (CBN) signed a network sharing and construction deal, giving the mobile market leader access to valuable 700MHz spectrum and opening the door to its 2.6GHz network, funding and expertise for the national cable TV operator.

The deal enables CBN to quickly deploy 5G service, substantially reducing the required network investment, while providing China Mobile new revenue streams.

In a statement, the companies said they will jointly construct a 700MHz network based on equal investments. Access to the band will enable China Mobile to expand coverage more efficiently, particularly outside of urban areas, as fewer base stations are needed than with 2.6GHz.

CBN was granted a 5G licence in June 2019. It plans to invest CNY250 million ($35.2 million) to deploy a commercial service in 16 cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

It was awarded 80MHz of 700MHz spectrum and 100MHz in the 4.9GHz band. China Mobile has 260MHz in the 2.6GHz and 4.9GHz bands.

CBN will pay China Mobile for 700MHz network operation and maintenance, along with backhaul between 5G base stations and its core network access points.

China Mobile will share its 2.6GHz network on a paid basis, with CBN able to access its 2G, 4G and 5G infrastructure prior to the launch of the 700MHz network. The mobile operator will also charge for international business transfer services.

The move to share spectrum resources is part of a government push to be a 5G leader, with collaboration encouraged to improve cost efficiently and accelerate nationwide rollouts. China Telecom and China Unicom agreed a joint build in October 2019.

China Mobile racked up 43.7 million 5G subscribers by end-April, with 124,000 base stations deployed.