China Mobile, which operates one of the biggest 4G networks in China, plans to start a large-scale 5G trial next year, in line with its plans to commercially launch 5G services two years later. In keeping with this target the company hopes to have 10,000 5G base stations by 2020.
Along with a few other global telecoms, China Mobile has made its intentions clear to dominate the developing 5G space. The company already has more than 600 million 4G subscribers and hopes to take a lead in 5G space as well. Other telcos who are aggressively working on 5G technology are SK Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Verizon.
China Mobile has conducted various tests related to 5G. The most recent is the end-to-end demonstration of 5G New Radio in partnership with Qualcomm and ZTE. The trials are based on 3.5Ghz spectrum, which is emerging as a spectrum band of choice for many telcos who are experimenting with 5G.
“The achievement of end-to-end 5G NR interoperable connection testing, compliant with the 3GPP 5G NR standard, is an important milestone,” said Li Zhengmao, China Mobile’s Vice President, in a press release issued by the company.
Telcos around the globe are working on upgrading the legacy networks to be ready for 5G. Commercial launch of the technology is likely to happen as soon as 2019. It is important to mention here that the technology is likely to be standardized only by 2020.
Adding software-upgradeable hardware along with virtualization are some of the steps to prepare the network. At the same time there are many who question the relevance and business case of 5G. BT Chief, Gavin Patterson had earlier this month mentioned that they were struggling to find the business case for 5G. (See: 5G: Hype or Reality? ).
Even as there are concerns about the business case, 5G promises to play a crucial role in helping telcos to incorporate network efficiency and flexibility to the networks, which in turn will help them in boosting speed and quality of services and maybe even bring down the cost.
Coming back to China Mobile, the company’s plan to come up with only 10,000 base stations is not going to be enough. It might be that the company is focusing only on small region or pockets for deploying 5G.