Visitors drop by ZTE's booth at the MWC Americas 2017 on Wednesday in San Francisco. (LIA ZHU / CHINA DAILY)
Chinese telecom company ZTE Group announced on Monday that it has succeeded in making the first phone call enabled by 5G technologies as Chinese smartphone makers scramble to work on 5G in hopes of applying this next-generation mobile communication technology to their products as soon as possible.
The move comes as China evolves from being a follower into a pioneer in the global telecom arena, experts said. The country is expected to commercialize 5G by 2020 and become the world's largest 5G market by 2025.
"The success moves China a step forward in developing 5G technologies, which will accelerate its speed in commercializing 5G," said Xiang Ligang, a telecom expert and chief executive of telecom industry website Cctime, adding that the call was one of the world's first using 5G technology.
The 5G phone call, as a collaboration between ZTE and China Mobile Communications Corp, was based on ZTE's end-to-end system of 5G, which will be taken for commercial use. It also follows the latest standard of 3GPP, a body that governs global cellular standards.
"Compared with 4G and 3G, calls enabled by 5G generate better quality," Xiang said.
China has gained momentum during the process of 5G development. It was reported recently that Chinese telecom carriers are likely to be issued 5G licenses in the second half of next year at the earliest. China will be among the first countries to issue 5G licenses.
In the past, China lagged behind other countries in issuing 4G and 3G licenses. But with 5G, the nation has already played an important role in finalizing the global standard and raced ahead in research and development.
The company invested 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) last month on a 5G product base in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, to develop the technology and devices.