When Is 5G Coming to China? (Updated for 2018)

China 5G Launch: All the Details

Picture of a globe showing China

​Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

5G networks coming online in China is not a matter of if, but when. Of the one billion 5G users expected by 2023, more than 50 percent of all the world's 5G connections are estimated to be in China.

In other words, 5G in China will be a much bigger thing than 5G... well, anywhere.

Currently, there are two primary 5G players in China that will bring about this ultrafast new wireless technology in the coming years.

If you’re not familiar with 5G, it’s the next generation of wireless technology. When comparing 5G to 4G, we see way faster speeds and much lower delays, which for you, means accessing data more quickly and having a smoother experience when watching movies, playing games, browsing the web, etc.

China is just one country where 5G will be available. There are also mobile telecom providers slated to release 5G in the US.

China 5G Rollout Plans

China Unicom is the world’s fourth-largest mobile service provider and is owned by the Chinese government. With such a large subscriber base, it makes sense that China Unicom will be one of the front runners of 5G in China, but as of now, they’ve only announced cities where they plan to start 5G test pilot projects.

Some of the cities mentioned by China Unicom include Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Guiyang, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Fuzhou, Zhengzhou and Shenyang. That plan is that each of these locations will build 100 5G base stations.

Another company looking to launch mobile 5G in China is China Mobile. Being the world’s biggest mobile phone operator with nearly one billion subscribers, there’s no doubt that China Mobile is on track to deliver its customers a 5G network.

China Mobile isn’t new to the 5G space. They were researching 5G technology with Ericsson in 2015, set up a 5G base station in June of 2017 in Guangdong, and launched another 5G trial network in Beijing just a month later.

China Mobile is currently testing 5G in Hangzhou, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou and Wuhan, and plan to build out 10,000 5G base stations by 2020, with 5G devices coming in the first half of 2019.

Another company on the road to a 5G release in China is 3 Hong Kong. The company announced in late November, 2018, that they completed their first outdoor 5G trial in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum bands. This was performed at a 5G cell site in Causeway Bay, and produced speeds over 2 Gb/s.

Even China’s 34-mile long Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge is expected to get 5G in the coming years via the bridge's network operator, ZTE Corp. However, an official release date hasn't been given.

The United States government has talked about nationalizing 5G in the US to purportedly protect the US from malicious Chinese attacks, and some companies like AT&T have been pressured from the US government to cut ties with phones made in China. This might affect the time frame for Chinese telecom providers to release 5G.

6G in China

Although China hasn’t even deployed 5G commercially, they're already looking into 6G! According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which first started their 6G research in March of 2018, a commercial version of the sixth generation of wireless technology likely won’t be released until 2030.