China likely to start commercial rollout of 5G in October

BEIJING • China may grant official 5G licences, instead of the interim licences previously planned, to telecommunications carriers this year, and is likely to start commercial use of the superfast wireless technology nationwide in the near future, possibly as soon as October, according to people familiar with the matter.

"Telecoms carriers, chipmakers and smartphone vendors in China are ready to commercialise 5G. China will directly grant 5G licences, instead of the previous plan to give several key cities interim 5G licences, to better time the rollout," said a source close to the telecoms industry regulator who asked to remain anonymous.

Mr Michael Gao Wenhao, deputy general manager of the 5G industrial products line at ZTE, disclosed at a 5G conference in Hong Kong last Thursday that "China is likely to start commercial use of 5G nationwide on Oct 1".

He told the China Daily that he got the information from the country's major telecoms operators.

China had earlier said that it was considering a pre-commercial launch of 5G this year, followed by large-scale commercialisation in 2020.

Mr Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, had confirmed at the Boao Forum for Asia that China will grant 5G licences this year, but did not disclose a specific date.

Major Chinese smartphone maker Huawei Technologies has already unveiled its first 5G chip and first 5G foldable smartphone, the Mate X, which is expected to hit the market next month, despite challenges involving the United States.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 19, 2019, with the headline 'China likely to start commercial rollout of 5G in October'. Print Edition | Subscribe