China Mobile could rollback its 3G networks by 2020, shortly after China’s official commercialization of 5G, according to local media.
According to China Mobile’s 5G rollout plan, it will begin testing the networks in 2019 with mass deployment by 2020. This could reportedly coincide with the rollback of its 3G networks.
During the Global Device Summit at the 2018 Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, the company released its guidelines for 5G devices. In it, the company stated that it no longer requires devices to support a 3G standard (TD-SCDMA) that is commonly used in China. The guidelines did specify that devices would need to support a number of LTE standards and GSM.
Should China Mobile scale back their slower networks in favor of newer technology, they will not be the first to do so. In April, China Unicom announced plans to roll back its 2G networks, in favor of 4G infrastructure, and in a few years, 5G.
In May, China Mobile let an education effort to allow its subscribers know that they would not need to replace their 4G SIM cards and that they would not use more data when making the switch to 5G. However, they did say that new devices would need to be used in order to utilize the faster speeds.
In April, China’s three big operators—China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom—started testing 5G in 16 cities including Hangzhou, Shanghai, Xiong’an, Shenzhen, Lanzhou, and Chengdu. The country aims to be at the forefront of 5G rollout and deployment.
Providers of 5G infrastructure are also pushing the deployment of newer networks. Huawei has invested more than $600 million in 5G research since 2009, the same year 4G networks went into operation. It was also the first company to receive approval to sell its 5G base stations in the EU.