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  • Gordon Dumoulin

The global battle of 5G, China is racing ahead

China's first 5G network covered subway station has been officially put into service in Chengdu city in Sichuan province last weekend after the city established the country’s first 5G demonstration zone last year, in which citizens can experience advanced communication technology. Within the experimental area, which boasts 5 GHz Wi-Fi hotspots, visitors can experience peak download speeds of 600 Mbps. “It usually takes about half an hour to download an Ultra HD Blu-ray movie to my mobile device with 4G, but now it can be finished in less than a minute," said one citizen.

Further, citizens can witness dinosaurs strolling down the street thanks to Mixed Reality (MR) technology, and see giant pandas in real time with the help of 5G and the 360-degree Virtual Reality cameras located several kilometers away at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. The Jinan-Qingdao high-speed railway in Qingdao province has also been prepared for 5G service while Fangshan district in Beijing is the biggest 5G roll-out in the world today to test wireless communications between autonomous vehicles and their surroundings.

Crucial in the 5G race is the telecommunications infrastructure. As smartphone makers prepare 5G-compatible devices, wireless carriers are rushing to build the necessary networks. Chinese carriers plan a total of $400 billion in 5G-related investment over the five years through 2020.

China already has 350,000 5G cell sites, more than 10 times the U.S. total, according to Deloitte. The Asian country is expected to be the world's largest 5G market in 2025 with 430 million subscribers -- well over double the estimated U.S. figure.

Chinese players are also gaining momentum overseas. Huawei has shipped parts for more than 10,000 base stations in 66 countries. ZTE has partnered with Dutch carrier KPN on 5G testing, and is using ultralow prices to make inroads into European markets.

What is the 5G battle so important ?

First, 5G technology will support next-gen digital applications that permit ultra-fast, low latency (or lag), and high-throughput communications. These new apps are likely to fuel the future smart cities and digital economies, predicted to be the next key driver of economic growth in the much-touted Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As a result, the superpower that gains a first-mover advantage in resolving the many technological, political, and policy challenges and successfully deploys the 5G network is likely to gain a significant economic edge over the other. This makes 5G implementation a zero-sum economic game.

Forget 5G, China is preparing for 6G

According to Chinese media, researchers will begin looking into 6G wireless systems from next year with with a goal to commercialise it by 2030. The Securities Times newspaper cited Su Xin, leader of the 5G group at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, saying that the theoretical downloads over 6G could reach the dizzying speeds of 1Tbit/sec. For comparison, 5G is capable of 1Gbit/sec speeds, making 6G ten times faster.

Xin believes that 6G technology will coexist with all other levels of wireless communications out there now. It’s an extra layer that, essentially, allows for devices that require high-speed communications to utilise the network, rather than simply being a booster to your mobile internet.

6G is also said to have more coverage than 5G would offer, allowing it to transmission at higher altitudes and potentially work as satellite internet.

Sources : gbtimes, thediplomat, Nikei Asian Review, thestack, alphr

#china #5G #digitalrevolution #artificialintelligence

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