BEIJING: China, the largest telecom market in the world in terms of subscribers, has started conducting trials for 5G telecommunications equipment in about 100 cities, as it aims to get a head start in the race to lead the next generation of cellular phone systems.
High-speed 5G networks can theoretically transmit data 20 times faster than current 4G speed, with less than one tenth of the latency, or the time for a data request to receive a reply.
The 5G technologies being tested include massive multiple-antenna systems capable of handling more users and increased capacity to support greater mobile data usage, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted Bernstein Research report as saying. With the world's largest 4G market at 1.3 billion users at the end of 2015 it is on sufficient scale to "make or break" a new global 5G standard Bernstein's senior analyst Chris Lane said.
Almost 30 per cent of China's 1.3 billion mobile phone users are on 4G networks, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which regulates the sector. High-speed 5G networks can achieve theoretical speeds at up to 20 gigabits per second, much faster than the current fourth generation speed of 1 Gbps.
Latency, or the time required for a request for data to receive a reply when clicking an app, is envisioned to be one millisecond or less on 5G, compared with 10 millisecond on 4G.
The International Telecommunications Union, part of the United Nations, expects network deployments to begin in 2020 soon after the standards are set for 5G, technically known as IMT-2020. The consensus among global telecoms industry leaders is that a single standard - a unified set of industry benchmarks - would be enormously beneficial.
"The cost of having different standards is high for the industry," said Wang Zhiqin, director of the Institute of Communications Standards Research at the China Academy of Information & Communications Technology said during the InnoTech Expo in Hong Kong. David Dai Shu, spokesman for Shenzhen-based telecommunications equipment maker ZTE, state-run China Mobile smartphone manufacturers is the largest in the world in terms of subscribers and revenue alone was planning "pre-5G trials in more than 100 cities across more than 20 provinces."
The other two government owned firms, China Unicom and state-run China Telecom may also be undertaking some preparation, Dai said, adding that Unicom had signed a cooperation agreement with ZTE in August related to 5G research. China Mobile has said previously that it plans to roll out its 5G network service in 2020.