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November 4, 2019,   12:47 PM

China Enters The Global 5G Race

Jamila Gandhi

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Chinese telecommunications officially launched their 5G services on Friday. The nation’s big three state-owned wireless carriers—China Mobile, China Unicorn, and China Telecom—switched on their services at the same time. China Mobile currently stands as the world’s biggest mobile operator by subscriber numbers, while China Telecom is the world’s largest integrated telecom operator by the same metric. The three operators have projected a combined capital spending of $43 billion this year.

The trio is now offering data plans that start from $18 for 30GB of data per month. The cost remains in a similar price range to 4G connectivity, making the next-gen network accessible to the same consumer brackets.

With the three major carriers on board, China automatically becomes the country with the biggest 5G network worldwide. Authorities are planning the installation of over 50,000 5G base stations in key Chinese cities. Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are among the few large cities that will receive access to full coverage first.

To tap into this growing demand in the Chinese markets, Huawei, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Samsung launched 5G-capable smartphones between $500 and $1000, with more products likely to follow in the fourth quarter of this year. The world’s largest telecom equipment maker, Huawei, expects around 480 million households worldwide to have access to fifth-generation (5G) broadband service by 2025. Despite the pressure from the US, in July Huawei said it had signed more than 60 commercial contracts to supply 5G networks worldwide, including at least 28 in Europe.

The opted-in 5G subscribers will enjoy access to faster videos and games, better performance for mobile videoconferencing and added VR capabilities on applications. More than 10 million individuals pre-registered to take the service in the country. The government expects that by next year over 110 million users will have switched to the new network, representing a 7% penetration rate, twice as high as the current penetration leader, South Korea.

South Korea launched its 5G network in April this year, and roughly 3% of the country’s internet users subscribe to it. According to GSMA, an industry lobby group, 1.2 billion people worldwide are set to have access to 5G networks by 2025—a third of them in China.



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