Caixin
Apr 23, 2018 07:10 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

China to Power Up Commercial 5G Phones by End of 2019

Photo: VCG
Photo: VCG

China is aiming to commercially produce its first 5G smartphones by the second half of next year, as it moves ahead aggressively with plans to take a leading position in the next wave of mobile technology, a top regulatory official said.

After years of following global peers in previous generations of wireless service, China has reversed course and is trying to be a leader in the next wave of fifth-generation (5G) services, set to start rolling out worldwide next year and in 2020. Such leadership would give China more say in developing global standards, and also allow it to profit from a more-active role in developing related technologies as the country tries to move away from traditional manufacturing.

The nation hopes to roll out its first sample 5G smartphones in the second half of this year, following development of the first concept phones in 2017, said Wen Ku, an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s telecom regulator, at an industry event on Sunday. That would pave the way for actual commercial production to begin by the end of next year, he added.

Wen pointed out that mobile data usage among Chinese consumers is growing rapidly, creating a need for new services with significantly more capacity than current 4G. The new generation of 5G services will facilitate data transfer rates of up to 100 megabytes per second in major metropolitan areas, boosting efficiency for functions like video streaming and paving the way for a new generation of functions with big-data requirements.

Data services are already the biggest single revenue source for China’s mobile carriers. Last week, leading provider China Mobile reported its average subscriber’s monthly data use rose 18% in this year’s first quarter.

“The most difficult thing about 5G is applications,” Wen said. “Besides traditional cellphone applications, 5G has applications in areas like medicine and traffic areas. This requires that our vertical industries, operational industries and manufacturing industries work together to create the internet of things and promote the development of our society and economy.”

A leading Chinese researcher previously said the country will start to test commercial-quality 5G wireless services next year and could roll out national commercial networks in 2020.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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