China Mobile releases its plan to offer 5G commercial services in more than 50 cities in Shanghai, on June 25, 2019. （Photo/China Daily by Gao Erqiang）
Telecom carrier plans 50,000 base stations in over 50 cities this year
China Mobile, world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, announced the delivery of over 10,000 5G terminals on Tuesday, which was the country's first large-scale delivery of 5G devices just weeks after the issuing of official 5G licenses.
According to Li Huidi, vice-president of China Mobile, a total of 42 types of terminals, mainly consisting of smartphones and customer premise equipment, were delivered to major device manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies Co, Xiaomi Corp, Oppo, ZTE and One-Plus.
The fresh devices are likely to enter the market as early as in July after being granted network access from the authorities, said Li ahead of the Mobile World Congress Shanghai.
Analysts said that the state-of-the-art technology is developing faster in China than anywhere else in the world.
"As China has officially entered the 5G era, China Mobile will accelerate steps to build the world's largest 5G network," said Yang Jie, the company's chairman.
The telecom carrier plans to build 50,000 5G base stations in over 50 cities this year and will offer 5G services to all the prefecture-level cities next year, he said.
While mounting voices questioned the high price of 5G devices, the company also disclosed on Tuesday that it will likely launch its 5G handset at a price of 1,000 to 2,000 yuan ($145) by the end of next year.
Xiang Ligang, director-general of Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said the moves highlight that China Mobile has a sprawling subscriber base, and it is relatively better funded than its rivals.
"Overall, whatever the amount of 5G devices it launches or their price, China is moving much faster than South Korea and the US, the first batch of countries to commercialize the technology, which unveiled only limited types of 5G smartphones," he said.
China issued four 5G licenses on June 6, which officially kicked off the 5G era. Major telecom carriers and device makers are all making their biggest push to apply and commercialize the technology.
On Tuesday, Huawei said on its social media platform that its Mate 20 X smartphone had got China's first network access license while ZTE told China Daily that it had obtained 25 5G contracts globally.
An earlier report quoting an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that the big three telecom carriers are likely to build 80,000 to 90,000 5G base stations this year.
The Global System for Mobile Communications Association, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, predicted that China will become the world's largest 5G market by 2025.
With an expected 460 million users of the next-generation, superfast network, user numbers will surpass those in Europe (205 million) and the United States (187 million) combined, the report said.
Zhao Aiming, deputy head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, noted at a recent conference that network operators should avoid repetitive investment in 5G and pay attention to the potential risks in industrial development.