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China advances 5G development, driving huge economic output in 5 years


A concept image of 5G technology in the cityscape of Guangzhou City, south China's Guangdong Province. /CFP
A concept image of 5G technology in the cityscape of Guangzhou City, south China's Guangdong Province. /CFP

A concept image of 5G technology in the cityscape of Guangzhou City, south China's Guangdong Province. /CFP

China witnessed its fifth anniversary of the issuance of the first batch of 5G licenses for commercial use on Thursday, with 5G Advanced (5G-A) marking a significant stride in the transition from 5G to 6G, viewed by many analysts as a precursor to future 6G technologies. 

According to experts, while challenges persist in the evolution from 5G to 6G, each technological breakthrough and application innovation will unlock new possibilities for future industries and enhance the prospects of smart living.

By the end of April, China had accumulated nearly 3.75 million 5G base stations, or about 26 base stations per 10,000 people. The country's essential 5G standard patent claims had accounted for over 42 percent of the world's total. The 5G technology has been widely used in key industries such as mining, electricity and healthcare, and has gradually penetrated from peripheral links to core areas like research and development, design and manufacturing.

In April 2020, China Mobile established a 5G base station at an altitude of 6,500 meters on Mount Qomolangma, which is the highest-altitude 5G base station in the world. In June 2020, China completed the construction of its first underground 5G network in Shanxi Province, setting a record as the deepest underground 5G network in the world.

In March 2024, China Mobile launched the world's first commercial 5G-A network in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, with plans to expand to over 300 cities across China before the year-end.

Economic output

To date, 5G applications have been integrated into 71 out of 97 key economic categories in the country, and more than 94,000 5G commercialization projects have been launched. China has over 800 million 5G mobile phone users currently, accounting for over 52 percent of the global total. The country aims to build 10,000 5G factories during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

Commercialization of 5G has directly spurred a total economic output of approximately 5.6 trillion yuan (about $773 billion) in China over the past five years, an official said Thursday. Zhao Zhiguo, chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), released the figure at a mobile communications forum, citing research from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

5G has also indirectly driven 14 trillion yuan in economic output, showing the new technology's great contribution to the country's high-quality development, Zhao said, adding that China has achieved global leadership in 5G network infrastructure, continuous breakthroughs in key core technologies, and remarkable results in the integration of digital and physical applications since the issuance of 5G commercial licenses on June 6, 2019.

In the next step, the MIIT will make continued efforts to help deepen 5G network coverage, accelerate the expansion of 5G applications, and actively promote the modernization of the information and communication industry, Zhao said.

(With input from Xinhua)

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