China has 475 million 5G mobile users

China has built a record number of 5G base stations since the official award of commercial 5G licenses more than three years ago. The country has built the world’s largest 5G network and achieved new breakthroughs in technological innovation. The development of 5G has entered a new phase. It not only helps the information and communication sector to make great progress, but also provides a strong impetus to the digital transformation of the economy and society.

On May 17, 2022, a technician from China Mobile installs and adjusts equipment at a 5G base station in Yuncheng City, Shanxi Province (Northern China). (Chang Qi/Pic.people.com.cn)

“The 5G connection was intermittent on the boat when I went to Mount Putuo last year, but this time the connection is excellent,” said a man surnamed Yang, who lives in Hangzhou city. One weekend, he took his family to Mount Putuo, one of the four famous Buddhist mountains in China, located in Zhejiang Province (in eastern China). He could even watch sports games in high definition on his cell phone while on the boat.

The connection improved thanks to a 5G base that was put into operation during a trial phase on an uninhabited island in Zhoushan in Zhejiang province a few months ago. Subsidiary of China Tower company specializing in telecommunication towers, combined microwave power, solar power and fuel-driven electric generator, to cover the border island of modern 5G network and solve the problem of weak signals between Mount Putuo and Wugongshi Port on Zhujiajian Island, accessible from Hangzhou .

Since the awarding of commercial 5G licenses in June 2019, Chinese telecom operators have followed coordinated plans and taken a moderately proactive approach to moving forward with building and sharing infrastructure. The number of 5G base stations has steadily increased in China. By 2021, all cities above the prefecture level are covered by the 5G network in China, and the 5G signal covers more than 98% of the central county area and 80% of the central township area.

On May 13, 2022, workers at an electronics manufacturing company produce screens for 5G wearables to be exported to the Total Bonded Zone in the Ganzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone in east China’s Jiangxi Province). (Zhu Haipeng/Pic.people.com.cn)

In three years, the 5G base stations currently in operation in China account for more than 60% of the number of base stations in the world, and the country’s 5G users account for more than 70% of the world’s 5G users.

According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), by the end of July 2022, China has built and put into operation 1.968 million 5G base stations and has already built the largest 5G network in the world, with 475 million 5G wearables users. MIIT plans to complete the construction of 600,000 5G base stations this year.

For three years, China Unicom and China Telecom, two major operators in China, have jointly built the world’s first co-shared standalone (SA) mode 5G network, which already covers important urban areas, counties and townships.

China Broadnet, a new telecommunications operator, and China Mobile, another major operator in the country, have together built more than 200,000 base stations in counties, townships and other rural areas.

On November 12, 2021, a man buys a 5G laptop at a shop in Maqiao Township, Baokang County, Xiangyang City, Hubei Province (central China). (Yang Tao/Pic.people.com.cn)

Co-construction and sharing have not only accelerated the construction of the 5G network, but also saved funds and resources, contributing to the environmentally responsible and low-carbon operations of enterprises.

For more than two years, China Unicom and China Telecom’s joint construction of 4G and 5G networks alone has saved investment of more than 210 billion yuan. It is expected to reduce operating costs by more than 20 billion yuan and reduce electricity consumption and carbon emissions by 10 Twh and 6 million tons per year, respectively.

In addition to accelerating network construction and sharing, China has made breakthroughs in innovation of key 5G technologies. When it comes to key technologies such as 5G chips and mobile operating systems, the country has continuously narrowed the gap from the advanced world level.

For example, China Mobile has piloted 156 5G international standard projects and filed over 3,600 5G patents, cementing its position as the world’s leading mobile network operator.

While China has made steady progress in 5G key technologies, China has also strengthened the 5G industrial chain, and 5G terminals are becoming more and more well-developed. In 2021, the country shipped 266 million 5G phones, up 63.5% year-on-year. As of April this year, there were 1,334 5G device models globally, including 677 wearable models. 558 of these laptop models, or more than 80%, came from China.

With its high bandwidth, low latency, wide connectivity and other advantages, 5G technology combines with technologies such as high-definition video, augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence and has created many scenarios of innovative applications in the audio and video sector.

China will continue to encourage innovation and consolidate the industry foundation to create an environment that promotes innovation and technological breakthroughs in 5G applications for humans, according to an MIIT official.

(By Wang Zheng, People’s Daily reporter)

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