China aims to have commercial use of 5G technology up and running in 2019, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Qiao Yueshan, deputy director of the ministry's information technology department, said telecom carriers - including China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom - will start to install medium and low-frequency bands in 2019 and 2020, while some regions are expected to test high-frequency bands in 2022 at the earliest.
Qiao said he also expects that manufacturers will launch commercialized 5G production by the end of this year, including base station equipment and terminal devices.
He made the remarks at a national meeting of the electronic information industry in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Sunday, a day before the opening of the China Information Technology Expo, an annual exhibition organized by the ministry and local government to showcase China's latest technological gadgets.
In recent years, many countries have scrambled to manifest the magic of 5G. Two major United States telecommunication companies - AT&T and Verizon - intend to offer limited 5G service this year, while Tokyo promises to commercialize it before the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.
At the meeting on Sunday, Luo Wen, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said: "China has made a major breakthrough - from following others to developing side-by-side - in the era of 2G, 3G and 4G. There is a significant opportunity for China to take the lead in 5G."
In February, Huawei Technologies unveiled its Balong 5G01, which the company claimed to be the world's first commercial chipset that meets 5G standards. And last week, Chinese telecom company ZTE Group announced that it had succeeded in making the first phone call enabled by 5G technology.
Still, Luo said, domestic production capacity and the technology level related to 5G medium-and high-frequency devices are lagging, so to promote the development of this field will be one of the major tasks of the ministry this year.
Driven by the development of 5G, the global market size of medium-and high-frequency devices will exceed $20 billion in 2020, a ministry work report said.
Qiao said the bureau has completed a draft of a three-year plan in a bid to speed up R&D of high-frequency devices for the development of next-generation mobile communication technology.
The nation also intends to establish national 5G innovation centers, he said. Sichuan province, Chongqing municipality and Shenzhen have all expressed interest, he said.