Almost 20,000 5G base stations have already been deployed in China, 90 percent of which have been built in first-tier cities, media reports said. An expert attributed the concentration to the cities' denser populations and rising demand for 5G services.
These cities will soon be the first to enable 5G-related services, the analyst said.
As of the end of July, China Tower had built 7,863 5G base stations in Beijing. As of June, 3,000 5G base stations were deployed in Shanghai, 5,000 in Guangzhou and 3,777 in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, according to the report.
"About 90 percent of the 5G base stations are deployed in those big cities because the demand for 5G technologies is concentrated there," Fu Liang, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times.
For example, traffic flows are much heavier in mega cities, so far more base stations are needed to enable a 5G-connected traffic system than in smaller cities, Fu said.
"These cities are also the most prepared for this upgrading, and once 5G network coverage is in place, things will move forward very fast," Fu said.
According to Fu, the number of 5G base stations is far from enough to meet the demand for this emerging technology, but cities and major telecommunications companies in China are picking up speed in their rollout, and the deployment of base stations in the first-tier cities will be completed by the end of September.
The number of 5G base stations needed to equal the coverage of the current 4G network is 1.5 to 2 times the number of 4G base stations, Fu said. Based on the 3.72 million 4G base stations that China had in 2018, 5.6 to 7.4 million 5G base stations will be needed.
Up to 34.2 billion yuan ($4.84 billion) will be invested in 5G this year by the three major telecommunications operators in China. China Mobile is planning to invest 17.2 billion yuan to build and operate 30,000 to 50,000 5G base stations. China Unicom will invest 6 to 8 billion yuan on 20,000 5G base stations and China Telecom will invest 9 billion yuan on 20,000 5G base stations, according to 21jingji.com.