The fifth generation of cellular networks, 5G, may be put into commercial use as early as 2020, according to a regulatory body's roadmap and the business plans of several companies. Insiders from IMT-2020(5G) promotion group, which is dedicated to boosting the systematic promotion of 5G, said second-phase testing will be launched in 2017.
Authoritative insiders also disclosed that the experimental stage of 5G will last three years, from 2016 to 2018. The construction of a 5G network will begin in 2019, with a total budget of 500 billion RMB ($73 billion).
Huang Yuhong, deputy general manager of China Mobile's research institute, said that the three biggest operators in China will cooperate with equipment manufacturers for testing, adding that the first standard for 5G will be announced in 2018.
Industry analysts believe that the commercialization of a 5G network will not only bolster the telecommunications industry, but will also drive other emerging sectors, such as big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and more.
Currently, 42 domestic companies are working with the 5G Joint Innovation Center, researching the development of Internet of Things, car networking, industrial Internet and other areas. Some projects have reportedly entered the commercial operation phase, ready to be tested and promoted in the future.
In addition to Chinese firms, foreign telecom firms including Qualcomm, Ericsson and Nokia are likely to be among the first companies to launch large-scale commercial use of 5G services. Media reports note that those firms have certain advantages in specific 5G applications, such as car networking, drones and smart homes.