Visitors watch an intelligent mechanical device equipped with 5G technology in operation during an exhibition in Beijing. [Photo provided for China Daily]
China is likely to issue 5G licenses to telecom carriers in the second half of next year at the earliest as the nation scrambles to commercialize next-generation mobile communication technology, Wang Zhiqin, an expert with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told China Daily on March 21.
“5G devices will be mature for commercial applications in China in 2019. We will be among the first batch of countries to issue 5G licenses in the world, most likely between the second half of 2019 and the first half of 2020,” said Wang, vice-president of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank affiliated with the ministry.
Wang is also head of the IMT2020 (5G) Promotion Group, a team established under the ministry to accelerate the development of superfast technology in China.
In the past, China lagged behind other countries when issuing 4G and 3G licenses. But when it comes to 5G, the nation has already played an important role in finalizing the global standards and raced ahead in research and development.
“Frequency bands are likely to be distributed to telecom carriers in the second half of this year, which will accelerate the construction of 5G networks,” Wang said.
According to her, medium-frequency bands will be used for 5G networks in the country and two of the country’s three big telecom carriers, namely China Mobile and China Telecom, prefer to build stand-alone 5G networks from the very beginning, in contrast to the United States and South Korea where companies are building non-standalone 5G networks.
Non-standalone 5G deployment offers a way for companies to set up 5G stations by partially relying on current 4G network infrastructure while stand-alone architecture means building completely new ones.
“The cost of building a 5G base station will at least be 1.5 times that of a 4G base station, which will put pressure on telecom carriers,” Wang said
“But the trend to innovate and apply 5G in a wide range of industries will motivate them to move fast,” Wang said.
She made the remarks on the sidelines of a 5G application competition held in Beijing on March 21. The competition was aimed at encouraging companies from the automobile, electric power, medical and other sectors to communicate with telecom companies, in order to come up with innovative 5G application scenarios and solutions.
Liu Xuan, an employee from Shenzhen-based BGI, China’s top gene-sequencing provider, said the company is engaged in a project using 5G technology to enhance medical services in remote areas.
“We are experimenting how to help doctors do sonograms for patients thousands of miles away by tapping into the superfast speed and extremely fast responses of 5G,” Liu said.
China has already started its third-phase tests on 5G research and development, in the hope of getting pre-commercial system products ready by the end of this year.