China Mobile released new 5G investment plans, mobile phones and packages on Tuesday, the first carrier to do so after the country issued 5G licenses this month.
China Mobile, with more than 800 million mobile subscribers, will establish 50,000 5G base stations to offer 5G coverage in 50 major cities nationwide by 2019, including Shanghai.
The carrier plans to offer 5G services in all cities by 2020, said Yang Jie, China Mobile’s Chairman. 5G is a “major highway of the information society,” which boosts digital economy development and various information applications, said Yang.
On June 6, China granted 5G licenses to China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom and the China Broadcasting Networ, the nation’s top three telecommunications carriers and its national broadcaster. 5G is up to 50 times faster than 4G.
China is not the first country to release 5G, but its massive user base catapults it into world leadership. The 5G technology will integrate with latest technologies from the cloud, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, industry association GSMA said on Tuesday.
By 2025, the world will have 1.4 billion 5G connections, one-third of them in China, said the GSMA.
China Mobile, with 31 industry partners including Huawei, Oppo and ZTE, also released its first batch of 42 5G models in Shanghai, which will be available in the market as early as next month.
It also kicked off a self-branded 5G smartphone which will be available in August, said Wang Hengjiang, Vice General Manager of China Mobile’s mobile end business.
The package offered to China Mobile’s invited 5G testers includes 200 gigabytes of data , 1,000 minutes of calls and 100 short messages. The mobile ends of the testers include 5G phones and mobile data cards, which turn 5G signals to Wi-Fi.
“Many 5G smartphones will debut in China at the end of this year, with a price about 5,000 yuan (US$735) on average,” Wang said. “The price will be cut to 1,000 to 2,000 yuan by the end of 2020.”
Soon, 4G and 5G data will both be included in new traffic packages, said China Mobile.
GTI, a global industry association including China Mobile and other major carriers, expects 5G will soon be offered by 135 carriers globally, including 40 in the Belt and Road regions.
China Mobile also announced 3 billion yuan in investment to support high-definition video production and distribution, a major application in 5G.
Shanghai leads in 5G construction and development as the city has a unique market position in the industry chain, covering everything from mobile end to chip design and various applications, said Wu Qing, Vice Mayor of Shanghai.
Shanghai is also the only city nationwide where the three big carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, have all set up outdoor 5G trials.
So far, Shanghai has 3,000 5G base stations, which will hit 13,000 to cover the whole city. By 2021, Shanghai will have 10 industrial applications with technologies such as 5G and AI, with 1,000 5G innovation projects.
The 5G technology and applications represent new opportunities for the city to develop its digital economy. By 2021, each of 5G manufacturing, software and services will be worth more than 100 billion yuan a year, Wu said.