Beijing’s communications office announced on Thursday that the capital has become the first city in China to be fully covered with 5G service in the urban center, with nearly 15,000 towers activated.

Why it matters: China’s three state-owned carriers are sparing no effort to build infrastructure for the next-generation of telecommunications technology. The central government wants to blanket 50 cities by the end of this year and build the world’s largest commercial fifth-generation mobile network.

  • China has more mobile users than any other country in the world, with around 850 million people using their smartphones to surf the internet.
  • The three state-owned mobile carriers—China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom—have a combined subscriber base of nearly 1.6 billion as of June, exceeding the country’s population.

Details: The area inside Beijing’s 5th Ring Road, considered as the boundary of the capital’s urban center, has been covered with 5G signal “without any holes” (our translation). 14,577 base stations have been activated, according to a notice (in Chinese) published Thursday on the Beijing Communications Administration’s website.

  • The city has about 251,000 5G network subscribers as of Dec. 16, said the department.
  • It expects the number of 5G towers in Beijing to reach 40,000 by the end of 2020.

China debuting 5G service 2 months ahead of schedule

Context: China launched its nationwide commercial fifth-generation mobile network on Oct. 31 with the three carriers offering 5G plans starting at RMB 128 (around $18.3).

  • The launch follows South Korea’s April kickoff of the world’s first commercial 5G service. Some carriers in the US, UK, and Australia also rolled out the service in limited areas this year.
  • The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China in June granted commercial 5G licenses to the three mobile carriers as well as state-owned China Broadcasting Network Corp.
  • China Mobile, the largest of the trio, intends to provide commercial fifth-generation mobile network services in 50 cities this year, with a goal of expanding the services to all cities by 2020, company chairman Yang Jie said in June.
  • Embattled Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei has become a major supplier for the three mobile carriers’ 5G infrastructure build-up. The company was awarded the bulk of China Mobile’s first round of 5G gear contracts in June.

Writing about semiconductors and telecommunications.

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