China's 5G base stations to proliferate widely


A China Mobile employee checks a 5G base station in Xiangyang, Hubei province. - China Daily

BEIJING (China Daily/Asia News Network): China plans to have 26 5G base stations for every 10,000 people by the end of 2025, as the nation works hard to build a new digital infrastructure that is intelligent, green, safe and reliable, according to a five-year plan unveiled by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Tuesday (Nov 16).

The goal, based on an estimated national population, means that the nation aims to have about 3.64 million 5G base stations by the end of 2025.

In comparison, in 2020, there were only five 5G base stations for every 10,000 people in China.

Xie Cun, director of the information and communication development department at the ministry, said the overall goal proposed in a five-year plan for the information and communication industry is to basically build a high-speed, ubiquitous, smart, green, safe and reliable new digital infrastructure by 2025.

The plan also proposed that the penetration rate of 5G users in China will increase from 15 per cent in 2020 to 56 per cent in 2021, and by then, 80 per cent of China's administrative villages will have 5G signal accessibility.

Xie said that China so far has already built more than 1.15 million 5G base stations, accounting for more than 70 per cent of the global total, and 5G network coverage has been achieved in urban areas of all prefecture-level cities, 97 per cent of counties and 40 per cent of rural towns across the country.

The 5G mobile subscriber accounts in China, numbering some 450 million, make up over 80 per cent of the global total, Xie added.

The five-year plan also forecast that by the end of 2025, the information and communication industry will maintain an annual growth rate of about 10 per cent to reach a total revenue of 4.3 trillion yuan (US$674.2 billion) in 2025.

The plan also forecast that the cumulative investment in telecom infrastructure will increase from 2.5 trillion yuan in 2020 to 3.7 trillion yuan in 2025.

Widening the industrial use of 5G will also be a key focus for China. Xie said 5G has already been used in 22 industries. The application of 5G in industrial manufacturing, mining and ports is relatively mature, where 5G has been expanded from production assistance to core businesses such as equipment control and quality control.

Meanwhile, a number of 5G-powered applications have also emerged in industries such as medical care, education and entertainment.

"In the next step, we will work with other parties to focus on promoting 5G applications in 15 industries that target information consumption, real economy and people's livelihood services," Xie said.

Wang Zhiqin, deputy head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, said China is likely to achieve several breakthroughs in 5G technological evolution, network construction and applications by 2025.

"By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China will have built the world's largest and most extensive stand-alone 5G network and basically achieve full network coverage in urban and rural areas," Wang said.

Ding Yun, president of Huawei Technologies Co's carrier business group, said: "5G is no longer for early adopters. It is improving our daily lives. This year is the first year with large-scale 5G industry applications.

Operators will need new capabilities in network planning, deployment, maintenance, optimisation and operations, in order to achieve zero to one, and replicate success from one to many."

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