China Begins 5G National Rollout in October, Shanghai Becomes First City with a Commercial 5G Network

The 5G network nationwide rollout in China in October anticipates its strong position for widespread commercialization in 2020.
Susan Fourtané

In 2020, 5G, the so much expected next-generation of wireless network technology, is finally coming onto the market. Analysts have anticipated that 5G revenues are going to reach $672 billion by the end of 2020.

According to mobile technology trends association GSMA, 5G connections are forecast to reach 1.2 billion by 2025, accounting for 14 percent of the total connections at the time.

By 2025, the number of 5G subscriptions is projected to reach 2.61 billion, according to Statista. Forecasting the number of mobile 5G connections worldwide from 2021 to 2025, the firm projects that the number of 5G connections will grow to 1.1 billion by 2025. 

According to Chinese technology leader Huawei Technologies, 5G could "support connections for at least 100 billion devices and 10 Gigabits per second (Gb/s) individual user experience capability of extremely low-latency and response times."

Huawei makes the most advanced 5G technology. The company has claimed that its technology is 18 months ahead of any other 5G manufacturer. 

China's roadmap for commercial 5G deployment 

China is strongly positioned in 5G-based value creation in both short and long-term. Since 2013, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Development Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Science and Technology have been guiding three phases of 5G development through the IMT-2020 5G Promotion Group. 

The three phases include: 

  • Key technology testing

  • Technology verification

  • 5G system verification 

 A mid-band spectrum system for system testing and initial commercial deployment has been followed a roadmap for divvying up millimeter wave spectrum in place. The success of the plan is based on the collaboration of Chinese technology companies that have developed compatible silicon, smartphones, cloud, core, software, and radio access network equipment. 

Finally, carriers are getting ready for widespread commercialization in 2020, starting in Shanghai. 

5G gets a head start in Asia 

"5G is the first wireless generation network that is going to be led by the enterprise." -Steve Koenig at CES Asia 2019

At the 5G and the Intelligent Life panel discussion at CES Asia 2019, the members of the panel discussed plans for 5G applications in Shanghai. "In terms of industrial value, we want to reach 100 billion applications for 5G. Now we have 100 applications across different industries."  

China has granted 5G licenses for commercial use becoming a leader in the world's telecommunications industry. 5G is going to generate over $1,54 trillion worth of economic output as well as creating over three million jobs between 2020 and 2025.

China welcomes all enterprises to participate in the building and application of its 5G network making it an interest and concern of everyone. 

5G availability and the first countries launching commercial 5G networks are going to have a great impact on the digital society. And 5G is getting a head start in Asia. 

South Korea is the first country in the world to launch 5G. Korea Telecom rolled out a trial 5G network ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Seoul.

China is launching its commercial 5G in 2020. The GSMA has estimated that by 2025 China is going to represent 40 percent of the total global 5G connections.

Shanghai will have China's first commercial 5G network in October 2019

5G deployment in Shanghai, China - Image: Tolga Uslu
Shanghai is to become first Chinese city to have a commercial 5G network. / Image: Shanghai by night. Source: Tolga Uslu for Interesting Engineering 
"5G technology is a key ingredient. Eventually, it's going to underpan the global economy." -Steve Koenig at CES Asia 2019 

The district of Hongkou in Shanghai is going to be the first in having 5G coverage with speeds 100 times faster than 4G LTE. Hongkou is also going to have a broadband gigabit network. 

In order to test the network, the mayor of Shanghai made a phone call using a Huawei MateX, Huawei's first 5G smartphone, on the 5G network without having to replace the SIM card or the phone number.

According to Yan Jun, General Manager of China Mobile, the Hongkou district in Shanghai is going to serve as an initial testbed for industries to test their 5G applications.   

China sets 40-city national rollout for October 2019 

China 5G rollout, CES Asia
Steve Koenig at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai explains China's 5G rollout plans for October 2019/ Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

Speaking at this year's CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai, Steve Koenig, Vice-President of Market Research at Consumer Technology Association (CTA) said that China Unicom, China Mobile, and China Telecom, which are China's three wireless carriers, are coordinating to bring commercial 5G service to 40 Chinese cities across the country. From those 40 cities, Shanghai is scheduled to be the first to have a 5G commercial network. 

"5G technology is a key ingredient. Eventually, it's going to underpan the global economy," said Steve Koenig.  

5G impact on industries 

China 5G impact on industries
Steve Koenig explains the impact of 5G on industries. /Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

"5G has greater capacity and lower-latency. Every sector will be impacted by 5G in some way," Steve Koenig said during his presentation at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai. 

The use of a 5G network in China for the coordination of surgeries is just one example of how 5G technology is going to impact industries across the globe. 

5G allows to have real-time collaboration and guidance during surgeries. Huawei and China Mobile used 5G technology in Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital to see very clear high-definition images during surgeries. It was also reported that voice calls over 5G were much clearer than with 4G.

5G opens new partnership opportunities 

5G opens new partnership opportunities
Steve Koenig speaking at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai / Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

Steve Koenig also noted that the 5G new partnerships that will emerge with the massive adoption of the technology are going to change how businesses interact with other sectors and create partnerships.

"5G is going to create new partnerships that were not possible before," he said. One difference from 4G is that the fifth wireless generation network is going to be led by the enterprise."  

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