China has succeeded in beating estimates, rolling out one of the world’s largest 5G networks months ahead of schedule.
Originally slated for a 2020 rollout, China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile simultaneously announced immediate availability of 5G plans “with prices ranging from 128 yuan (about 18 U.S. dollars) to 599 yuan. Subscribers will be able to enjoy connections way faster than 4G and less expensive data per gigabyte.
“For example, China Unicom’s 129-yuan service plan comes with a 30-gigabyte data cap, 500 minutes of voice talk and a 500-Mbps speed cap. Its 599-yuan plan allows 300 gigabytes of data and 3,000 minutes of voice talk, putting the speed limit at 1 Gbps.”
The new service is available in 50 cities throughout the country. Because 5G uses high-frequency millimeter waves, rather than the low-frequency waves used by previous networks, the service must rely on a greater number of cell towers and base stations to achieve reliable coverage. In Shanghai alone, some 11,859 base stations were activated to provide coverage across the city.
Given the ongoing trade war between the United States and China, a war in which 5G has been a prominent battleground, it will be interesting to see how U.S. companies respond to China’s announcement.