China Grants the First 5G Licenses for Commercial Use to Four Firms
COVID-19 and China
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China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the 5G licenses to China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Broadcasting Network on Thursday, June 6, 2019. China is the fifth country that launches 5G.

After the license release, three leading Chinese telecommunication carriers will further lay out 5G market and purchase a large number of devices. China Mobile plans to finish upgrading 30,000 – 50,000 base stations and invest about CNY 17.2 billion, China Telecom to construct 20,000 base station and invest CNY 9 billion, and China Unicom to build 20,000 base station and invest in CNY 6-8 billion.

Terminal providers have been waiting for the license. Last month, China Unicom has announced a series of terminal providers with 5G capability, including Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo, those who have already launched 5G smartphones in the overseas market.

5G commercialization competition among countries has become more intensive from the beginning of this year. Before China, Korea, U.S., Switzerland and U.K. had started 5G commercialization.

Korea government firstly granted 5G licenses to three main telecommunications service providers – SK, KT, LG Uplus – by auction on June 15, 2018. These three companies started to build 5G base station for business use since then. Six Korean users on April 3 registered 5G service, who are the first movers of 5G services for consumers in the world. By the end of April, SK and KT has constructed nearly 90,000 5G base stations in 17 Korean cities, more than 10,000 of which were erected by LG and Huawei.

U.S. is the second. By the end of last November, U.S. government has granted three batches of 5G license. President Trump said in a speech this April, the race to 5G is a race America must win. 92 5G markets will be ready by the end of the year, outpacing South Korea, which is on pace to have 48 markets live by the end of 2019.

Verizon, the leading American telecommunications company, chose Chicago and Minneapolis to build 5G base stations at the beginning, planning to conduct 5G base stations in 20 cities including Atlanta, Boston, Washington, San Diego, etc.

Switzerland government on February auctioned 5G license to Sunrise Communications AG - commonly known as Sunrise, a Swiss telecommunications provider. By the end of this April, more than 150 5G base stations had equipped in Switzerland by Sunrise and its cooperator Huawei. On April 10, Swisscom AG announced to collaborate with Qualcomm, OPPO, LG and other device providers to launch the first 5G service to consumers in Europe.

On May 30, British mobile network operator EE unveiled 5G services in six cities in U.K., including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, London and Manchester.

5G enables communication and interconnections between devices, opening up a whole new world. Applications expand from smartphones and appliances to security and transportation system, transforming all industries.

However, it's probably not the best time for consumers to join 5G service, especially for mobile phone users. 5G service is available only for specific area nearby 5G base stations and 4G mobile phones do not support the network.


*Contributor: Shang Yang

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