China delivers remarkable performance in commercial 5G services

BMW Brilliance, a joint venture between the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd., displays its 5G products at the Global Industrial Internet Conference which kicked off in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning province on Oct. 18. Photo by Huang Jinkun, People's Daily Online

China’s communication industry, since officially launching commercial 5G services on Oct. 31, 2019, has remarkably advanced 5G construction over the past year.

Over 690,000 5G base stations have been erected across the country, connecting more than 160 million terminals.

“I can finally bid a farewell to laggy sports livestreams on my phone,” said a man surnamed Shen who had just switched to a 5G package of China Telecom, one of the three major carriers in China, two weeks ago.

Shen, who works for an internet company in Shanghai, once doubted the coverage and application of 5G network. However, once he started using it, the experience was beyond expectation. “Videos are sent in a second, and the internet phone calls have no lag at all. It’s also very fast to send high-volume emails when I turn my phone into a WiFi hotspot,” Liu told People’s Daily.

Many people said they were expecting “super applications” that could exploit the full potential of the 5G technology, and Song Xiaoming, who works in the new media industry in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province, is one of them.

“We have just kicked off 5G-based livestream marketing, and it offered unprecedented vision quality,” said Song, who started using 5G services earlier this year. He told People’s Daily that he has some friends developing 5G applications for agriculture and health industries, and these applications are welcomed by the users. “However, ‘super applications’ for average consumers are still needed,” he added.

Such applications call for high speed, low latency and wide connection of the 5G network, said Zhang Chuang, a professor with Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. Taking sports livestreams as an example, the professor introduced that 5G could make broadcasts more interactive, as the viewers can not only select their favored camera angles, but also watch game highlights with panorama view as their fingers scrolling on the screens. “It’s going to be a hit if such technique is applied to the live broadcast of major sport events,” he said.

The newly built Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in southwest China’s Sichuan province is now progressing its 5G connection. So far, 80 percent of the cable work has been completed, marking a 40 percent completion of the whole 5G project of the airport. By Jan. 30 the next year, all the 5G network construction of the airport will be finished.

The 5G construction of the Chengdu Tianfu International Airport is just a miniature of China’s accelerated 5G networking in the past year. As of September this year, the country has built over 690,000 5G base stations that connect more than 160 million terminals.

While China is rapidly improving the coverage of base stations, 5G terminals are also emerging massively with plunging prices. So far, 207 models of 5G terminals have been granted network access certificates, which means they are ready to hit the market, including over 180 mobile phones manufactured by 34 brands. Most of these phones are priced below 2,000 yuan ($302), and nearly 80 percent of the mobile phones launched in the recent two months are 5G phones.

Next, China will focus on the innovation of 5G applications, dig into the demand of its vertical markets, and keep diversifying application scenarios, so as to build a broader application ecology.

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