On Friday, China began operating what it says is the world’s largest 5G network. The country’s three state-run carriers — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom — launched services for next-gen wireless technology on Friday, two months earlier than planned, CNN reported.
5G commercial services are now available in 50 cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
In Shanghai, nearly 12,000 5G base stations have been activated to support 5G coverage across the city’s key outdoor areas.
Other countries including the United States and South Korea launched 5G services in parts of certain markets earlier this year. But China’s commercial network is the biggest, according to Bernstein Research, giving the county more influence over the technology’s global evolution. “The scale of its network and the price of its 5G services will have a pivotal impact throughout the supply chain,” Bernstein analyst Chris Lane said in a research note last week.
China has more mobile internet users than any other country, with about 850 million people using their smartphones to surf the internet, according to Xinhua.
Analysts at Jefferies predict that China will have 110 million 5G users — about seven percent of the country’s population — by 2020. South Korea launched its 5G network in April, and roughly three percent of the country’s internet users subscribe to it, according to Jefferies.
Equipment manufacturer Huawei is playing a major role in China’s 5G network rollout, reported CNN. The Shenzhen-based company does business with all three Chinese telecom operators. China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile internet provider, awarded nearly half of its 5G networking contracts to Huawei, according to state run newspaper China Daily. The rest went to rivals such as Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE.
The U.S. has been urging countries to ban Huawei equipment from their 5G networks, alleging that Beijing could use it for spying. Huawei has consistently denied its products pose a security risk.
Several Chinese smartphone makers have already started selling 5G devices in China. But Huawei is in a position to dominate the market, “given its tight operator relationships in 5G network deployment, and control over key components,” according to Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys.
November 4, 2019