Caixin
Dec 21, 2016 02:51 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

China Mobile Plans to Launch 5G Trials in 2018

(Beijing) — Leading wireless carrier China Mobile Ltd. said it will start major trials for fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology in 2018, kicking off a new round of billions of dollars in new investment to usher in an era of high-speed communications and the "internet of things."

China Mobile will test the technology for about two years, with a target date of 2020 for launching 5G commercial service, CEO Li Yue said. That timeline mirrors a similar trend that often sees China roll out its newest generation of mobile networks two to three years after its counterparts in the West.

"5G will change the parameters for development in many industries," Li said at an event to discuss the rollout. "The most significant is how fast 5G is."

Li said the high-speed technology is optimized for the internet of things, a concept in which humans and smart devices use the web to communicate with one another to perform tasks like switching on devices and monitoring a pet's movements from long distances. He said that the response time after inputting information is just 1 millisecond for 5G, compared with 20 milliseconds for current 4G networks and 100 to 150 milliseconds for 3G.

China is the world's largest mobile market with 1.3 billion subscribers, more than half subscribing to 4G services. China Mobile was the first to roll out service with its receipt of a 4G license three years ago, and now has 510 million subscribers. Its two smaller rivals, China Unicom and China Telecom, received licenses about a year later, and each now has about 100 million users.

China is trying to become more involved in the development of global mobile standards like 5G, an area that is currently dominated by Western companies and that can bring big rewards through licensing fees. Last month the country scored a major breakthrough when a technology promoted by local companies was selected as a core part of the global 5G standard.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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