China’s three state telecoms announced Thursday the launch of 5G services in the country, international press reported.
Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of Industry and Information Technology, officially kicked off the launch with representatives from the three carriers at PT Expo China in Beijing.
China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom said that 5G plans will be available beginning on Friday, allowing Chinese consumers nationwide to start using 5G technology.
China Mobile offers five plans with monthly prices ranging from CYN128 ($18.10) for 30GB to CNY598 for 300GB. According to the reports, over 10 million subscribers have already pre-registered to acquire 5G plans.
China Unicom said its 5G offering will initially have coverage in 14 cities, with plans to have service in 40 Chinese cities by the end of the year.
China Unicom claims to have ubiquitous 5G coverage in 14 cities, provided by 28,000 5G base stations.
The three operators deployed about 86,000 5G base stations and expect to have more than 130,000 by year-end. China Mobile announced plans to install 50,000 5G sites by end-2019, while China Unicom and China Telecom each target about 40,000, according to press reports.
In June, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) officially issued licenses for the launch of commercial 5G networks in the country. Those 5G permits were granted to state-run carriers China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and state-owned broadcaster China Broadcasting Network.
At the end of last year, the MIIT issued licenses for 5G trials in a number of cities across China. Commercial rollout of 5G in China was initially expected to occur during 2020. However, the decision by the government to accelerate 5G deployment will trigger investment in the Chinese market.
In September, China Telecom and China Unicom inked an agreement to cooperatively build a 5G mobile network, with the main aim of reducing costs.
Under the “co-build, co-share” deal, the carriers will work together to outline districts in 15 cities for the network construction, with their respective total scale of 4G base stations in mind.
Some analysts considered that shared network infrastructure agreements of this kind could potentially reduce China’s overall infrastructure spending, which could affect telecoms gear makers such as ZTE, Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.
However, Chinese vendor ZTE’s President of Global Sales, Xiao Ming, recently told RCR Wireless News that the vendor is not concerned about the impact of the decision of state-run telecommunications operators China Telecom and China Unicom to share resources in the deployment of 5G infrastructure.
“With this decision by the two operators, there will be two nationwide 5G networks in China and not three, but we see that there will be an intense competition between China Mobile and the consortium,” the executive said on the sidelines of the ZTE’s Global Wireless User Congress and 5G Summit which took place last week in Vienna, Austria.
“We initially considered that this decision could be negative for the equipment manufacturers but now we have a positive expectation with this move as China Telecom and China Unicom will be able to have a nationwide 5G network and compete with seriously China Mobile through the network sharing agreement. China Mobile is in a position to launch its own nationwide 5G network infrastructure,” he said.