When Beijing sets its mind to building new infrastructure, there’s very little that can stop it.
That’s the message coming from a top telecom official who was talking up China’s fast-growing 5G network at a major industry event taking place this week in Shanghai. The nation now has more than 718,000 base stations for the cutting-edge communications technology, covering all of its major cities, said Liu Liehong, a vice minister at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
The nation’s huge base station buildup means China is now home to a whopping 70% of all such 5G infrastructure worldwide, he added. Beijing has strongly pushed 5G at the consumer end as well, with 77% of all 5G smartphones sales worldwide taking place in China during last year’s third quarter, according to data tracking firm IDC.
Analysts told Caixin that China’s dominant position in 5G owes to Beijing’s strong focus on the technology and its ability to execute plans through its state ownership of many key sector players, including the nation’s big three wireless carriers. They added its strong position is likely to continue, though its share of the global market will fall gradually as other countries step up construction.
Liu pointed out that Chinese telecom product and service providers have spent a collective 260 billion yuan ($40 billion) on 5G technology to date. That includes construction not only by the country’s big three carriers, but also by industry-specific network operators in areas like energy, medicine and education. He noted that 5G customers in China on average are using 50% more data than those using older 4G service that is still most widely used in the rest of the world.