China officially began commercializing 5G services on October 31, with the country’s three major telecommunications companies introducing their 5G data plans. More than 86.000 5G base stations in 50 cities across the country were put into operation at the start, according to the Chinese government.
Big start all at once
China is pursuing a different strategy than Europe or the USA: while in the western hemisphere the start of the 5G age is slowly and gradually taking place, China is trying to do so with one big leap at a stroke. A further 45.000 5G base stations are to be built by the end of the year. The large-scale 5G offensive is part of China‘s efforts to boost economic growth by expanding its digital infrastructure.
While China is not the first country to commercialize the superfast wireless technology, which can enable downloading of 8 GB movies in seconds and make self-driving vehicles and remote surgeries a reality. “But it leads the world in the scale and diversity of 5G services, with individual consumers and enterprises showing mounting enthusiasm for the new technology”, said Wang Zhiqin, deputy director of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank.
Suitable 5G mobile tariffs
Parallel to the launch, the three major Chinese telecommunications companies, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, have been offering 5G tariffs for end users since 1 November. These are generally more expensive than old LTE tariffs, but the price per gigabit is lower. Demand among the population for the new technology and 5G-enabled smartphones is enormous: in September, retailers ordered half a million 5G smartphones from manufacturers. According to the three major telecommunications companies more than 10 million customers want to switch to a 5G device in the near future.
Western Hemisphere recognizes potential
Western tech giants such as US chip manufacturer Qualcomm have recognized the growth potential of the Chinese market. “Currently, we have worked with partners to launch multiple 5G smartphones and bring the 5G experience within reach. Moving forward, we will continue to join forces to bring diverse 5G-powered, innovative applications to more consumers and industries”, said Frank Meng, chairman of Qualcomm China. And growth is likely to continue at a rapid pace: according to a forecast by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, a global telecom association, China is set to become the world’s largest 5G market by 2025, with 460 million 5G users.