China won’t be first to deploy 5G but will be world’s largest 5G market

China has announced aggressive plans with the superfast 5G connectivity and has positioned the new cellular generation as a key pillar of its economic development initiatives.

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However, despite China’s vigorous pursuit to win the 5G race, it is US operators who will actually deploy 5G before their Chinese counterparts, according to analyst firm ABI Research.

“While they won’t be the first country to deploy 5G, once they do, China will be the world’s largest 5G ecosystem. At present, China has more than 160 cities with a population of more than 1 million and 15 cities with a population of more than 10 million,” said Emanuel Kolta, research analyst at ABI Research.

“This will make China the biggest single mobile broadband market and the Chinese government aims to position 5G as a key technology in its industrial revolution strategy.”

ABI Research expects that China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom will all start large-scale deployments in 2020, prior to 2019’s pre-commercial deployments.

While the provision of enhanced mobile broadband to consumers will be the core proposition in early Chinese 5G deployments, industrial applications and network slicing will be the target of all Chinese operators.

The Chinese central government has positioned 5G as a core component of its 13th Five-Year Plan and Made in China 2025 strategic plan to upgrade the Chinese industry.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have significant importance in consumer and industrial applications. While consumer application VR games are more well-known within the public, the Chinese government has high expectations for industrial applications of AR/VR, such as for virtual instruction manuals and virtual assistance.

The United States, China, South Korea, and Japan have been the forerunners in the 5G race.

“For the winner, 5G will stimulate economic growth, establish geopolitical superiority, and even gain advantages in terms of military and intelligence powers. China has a unique position because its government does not just regulate the telecommunications market, but also actively shapes and encourages the market and its participants,” Kolta said.

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