The use of 5G networks will not lead to an increase in data consumption, and users won’t be required to replace their existing 4G SIM cards, network operator China Mobile has said.

Regulators are expected to begin issuing 5G licenses to mobile operators in the second half of 2019. As such, China Mobile said individuals wanting to make use of the new networks will need to replace their mobile phones. The current generation of smartphones is 4G-enabled, but 5G networks require different mobile phone hardware.

Radio networks are broken up bands, with 4G operating on frequencies below 6 GHz. However, 5G networks will be able to operate between 30 GHz and 300 GHz, resulting in less clutter for data transfers. The technology is promoted as being up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks.

China Mobile also mentioned that the increase in speed does not result in an increase in data transmission. Users can download the same file at a much faster rate, but the size of the file remains the same.

China aims to be a driving force in the development and deployment of 5G infrastructure and technology. China Unicom has already begun scaling back its 2G network to drive usage of 4G, and, in the near future, 5G. The country is host to an increasing number of pilot projects. In April 2018, network operators were given the approval to test 5G networks in 16 cities, including Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Guiyang, Chengdu, and Shenzhen. Pilot programs have already been rolled out in Lanzhou and Xiong’an.

5G infrastructure providers are also pushing the deployment of the technology. Huawei has invested more than $600 million on 5G research since 2009, the same year the first 4G networks went into operation. It has become the first company to receive approval to sell its 5G base stations in the EU.

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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