China has expanded its influence on the 5G standard-setting process. All three major carriers China Unicom, China Mobile, and China Telecom had started offering 5G services with prices starting from 128 yuan per month, equivalent to approximately $18.2/month for 30GB of data, up to about $85 for 300GB. Initially, the 5G services are launched in about 50 Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing, along with second-tier provincial capital cities such as Wuhan and Nanjing. This is the World’s largest launch of the 5G services as compared to the US and South Korea.
The country’s three state-owned service providers said it would launch the ultra-fast mobile internet service, which assurances to support new features, for example, autonomous driving, early next year. But the launch accelerated just as the US dug in on a boycott of China-based 5G equipment supplier and technology giant Huawei Technologies Co.
In Beijing, at least 50,000 base stations have been installed by China Mobile alone, comprising a majority of the core areas, but it is still inaccessible for vast rural areas, according to the report. More than 130,000 5G base stations will be introduced by the end of the year to support the 5G network, the government said in the statement. Besides, more than 10 million mobile plan subscribers who have pre-registered for 5G will have access to faster videos and online games, more virtual reality applications and upgraded performance for mobile videoconferencing. “The scale of its network and the price of its 5G services will have a crucial impact throughout the supply chain,” Bernstein analyst Chris Lane said in a research note earlier this week.
Sales of 5G phones in China remain a very small portion of the overall market though, as only 219,000 5G smartphones were sold in China in August 2019. This only accounted for 0.7% of the overall 30.8 million units of phones sold in the country during that month, according to data from the government-backed China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. There are numerous 5G smartphones already available, too, from brands including Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Vivo. Recently, Xiaomi said it would introduce 10 new 5G connected smartphones over the next year, at a comprehensive range of prices, as it predicted a slump in the sales of 4G devices.