The first 5G-enabled aviation base in northeast China has been launched in Shenyang, the capital of northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning, amid China’s push to become the world leader in 5G.

According to Chinese media, Shenyang’s Faku mixed-use Aviation Base has installed a 5G base station and completed test flights with drones on Tuesday. The base station was built by the Liaoning branch of state-owned telecommunications operator China Unicom, who claimed to provide full coverage of 5G networking services for the airport. The deployment of 5G is expected to accelerate the development of aerial applications of AI in the region.

“5G technology will enable connected unmanned equipment with capabilities such as ultra high-definition image transfer with low latency,” said Feng Yang, a spokesperson of Shenyang Wuju, the local company who carried out the inaugural drone tests. This next-generation of wireless networks will empower autonomous devices ultra-fast and continuous network connectivity, a capability which will pave the way for the provision of aerial shooting, mail delivery, and surveillance services, Yang said in his interview an interview with Chinese.

The local drone operator conducted 5G test flights at the Shenyang General Aviation Industry Base, recording the flights in 4K and transferring the footage to control centres at the airport and the city in real time. The tests showed that the 5G network can work at about 10 times the speed of the current 4G network.

Built in 2010, the Aviation Base is open for drone testing, especially at low altitudes. The local government plans to make the base a national 5G air traffic control site, drone testing, and drone-related big data center, essentially designating it as the future drone R&D center of China’s northeast region.

The Chinese government is encouraging the adoption of 5G networks for commercial use. In late January, the Guangzhou Baiyun Airport became China’s first 5G-covered commercial airport. It installed a 5G base station built by China Unicom’s Guangzhou branch using Huawei’s Lampsite technology.

Less than a month later, China Unicom announced a partnership with another state-owned carrier, China Mobile. Together, the two state-owned telecoms giants will equip Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station with an indoors 5G network by the end of the year.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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