On June 6, 2019, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology granted official commercial 5G licenses to the nation's major three telecom carriers — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, as well as the state-owned China Broadcasting Network Corp, taking a crucial step for commercial use of next-generation 5G technology.
Over the evolutionary course of mobile communication technology, Europe led the way in 2G, the second generation, while Japan was ahead in 3G and the United States in 4G. China has realized leap-forward development: from absence (1G) to follow (2G), from chase (the homegrown TD-SCDMA became one of the three international 3G standards) to side-by-side (the indigenous TD-LTE was one of the two international 4G standards). China is already slightly ahead of South Korea and the United States in the race to develop 5G.
5th generation mobile networks, or 5th generation wireless systems, abbreviated as 5G, is the latest cellular mobile communication technology. The performance objectives of 5G are faster data rates, reduced latency, energy savings, cost reductions, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity.
According to the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the network rate of 5G should meet the following standards: download speed no less than 100Mbps, upload speed no less than 50Mbps, time delay not exceeding 4 milliseconds, and maximum speed of the terminal up to 500km/h.
3GPP defined the three major application scenarios of 5G: 1) enhance mobile broadband (eMBB): Gbps mobile broadband data can be accessed. 3D stereoscopic video, ultra high definition video, cloud entertainment and augmented reality (AR); 2) Ultra Reliable & Low Latency Communication (uRLLC): self-driving technology, tele-medicine platforms and industrial automation; 3) Massive Machine Type of Communication (mMTC): Internet of Things, smart homes, smart cities and smart buildings.
It is known to all that 5G has remarkable transmission rates. But how fast are they exactly? The answer from the 3GPP is that the maximum transmission speed can reach 20Gbps, hundreds of times faster than that of 4G. 5G can support as many as 192 antennas and has larger frequency bandwidth and wider frequency range. Its greater data transmission rate and network capacity can meet the demands of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and glass-free 3D videos. We may share 3D movies, games and ultra HD videos through intelligent terminals in the near future.
5G means more than just faster data speeds and greater network capacity. It also provides a foundation for connecting an unlimited number of machines to one another for day-to-day communication. A 5G network will support a million connected devices per square kilometer, nearly a hundred times more than the current mobile internet capability. The deep integration of 5G technology with other technologies including cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence will truly realize the interconnection of everything, and upgrade the development of industry, transportation, medical treatment, energy, smart cities and smart homes.
The remarkable development of China’s 5G technology can be attributed to multiple factors. In addition to government support, the active participation of enterprises was also of great significance. China’s telecom operators collaborated closely with the communication equipment manufacturers on 5G R&D. What’s more, Chinese enterprises have been conducting large-scale R&D on mobile communication technology since the 3G era. Huawei Technologies Co is racing ahead among the world’s peer companies in terms of R&D intensity and scale of expenditure.
China is projected to invest $184 billion on 5G by 2025, accounting for 49.73 percent of Asian mobile operators' $370 billion investment in 5G network building between 2018 and 2025, according to a report The Mobile Economy Asia Pacific 2019 by Global System for Mobile Communications Alliance (GSMA).
5G technology will become the new growth engine for China's digital economy. Artificial intelligence is an important part of the digital economy and 5G offers strong support for its commercial application. By 2022, the digital economy is expected to take up 65 percent of China's economy. 5G will play an increasingly important role in driving China's economic growth, with its contribution expected to increase from 0.1 percent in 2020 to 5.8 percent by 2030.