China Mobile Communications Corp aims to build the world’s largest 5G trial network and will start tests in five Chinese cities this year, according to the company’s chairman.
The company will conduct outdoor field tests in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou and Wuhan, and is going to establish more than 100 5G base stations in each city, said Shang Bing, chairman of China Mobile, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
He added that the company will accelerate 5G operation and application in 12 cities including Beijing, Chengdu and Shenzhen.
The move came as China evolves from being a follower into a pioneer in the global telecoms arena and the country’s telecom operators scramble to gain a lead in the race to commercialize 5G or the next-generation mobile communication technology.
The superfast 5G network is expected to allow consumers to download movies in seconds and help to make autonomous driving a reality.
To make the most of the opportunities, China is rushing to finish its own series of 5G trials.
The country’s telecoms authority said on Feb 26 that it has started the third phase of 5G technical research and development by involving Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the country’s biggest telecom equipment maker.
The move is designed to get pre-commercial 5G products ready as soon as possible.
At the conference, China Mobile also said that it succeeded in developing end-to-end connection between the largest base station, terminal chip and testing instrument based on the new radio standard of 3GPP, or 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a body that governs global cellular standards.
The Beijing-based company is now the world’s largest telecoms carrier by subscribers. It said earlier that it aimed to deploy more than 10,000 5G base stations by 2020.
“Despite the fast development of 5G, its commercialized progress has entered a crucial phase where telecom carriers are faced with an array of challenges,” said Li Zhengmao, vice-president of China Mobile.
Li said that greater efforts are needed to develop the technology needed to commercially apply 5G.
“In addition, telecom carriers also need to come up with lower-cost solutions for large-scale 5G application,” he said.
Li noted that the integration of 5G with different sectors will be an important development, but work needs to be done to overcome a number of obstacles to the deployment of 5G in various sectors.