5G, 6G at the forefront of high-quality development, digital transformation

A China Mobile technician checks 5G devices in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, in December. ZHU HAIPENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

China’s increased push to develop super-fast wireless technologies, including 5G and 6G, will further boost industrial upgrading and digital transformation in traditional sectors and give new impetus to the country’s economic growth, industry experts said.

They added that 5G technology has been widely combined with artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, with a wide range of applications in areas such as virtual reality games, online education, unmanned vehicles and intelligent logistics. They also called for active participation in the formulation of 6G-related international standards.

Her comments came after the industry’s top regulator said China will accelerate 5G network deployment, expand the application of 5G technology to more fields, particularly manufacturing, and boost 6G research and development.

“Currently, China is at the forefront of 5G development in the world. The country has built more than 2.54 million 5G base stations, with the number of 5G smartphone users exceeding 575 million,” said Minister of Industry and Information Technology Jin Zhuanglong, adding China will build 600,000 5G base stations this year build.

Jin made the remarks on the sidelines of this year’s two sessions. Noting that 5G has been deployed in more than half of the major industrial sectors, including mining, ports, electricity and aviation, Jin called for efforts to expand the application of the super-fast wireless technology to more fields like manufacturing.

He said the country will build over 10,000 5G-enabled factories during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) as part of a broader initiative to promote the application of 5G technology in the industrial internet.

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According to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, China is expected to spend 1.2 trillion yuan (174.2 billion U.S. dollars) to build 5G networks, which will generate more than 3.5 trillion yuan in investment in the future by 2025 – and downstream industrial chain and related sectors, a government think tank.

The 5G industry is expected to directly create over 3 million jobs by 2025, with aggregate information consumption through the commercialization of wireless technology exceeding 8.3 trillion yuan, the academy said.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecommunications industry association, said China has entered a pivotal period for 5G commercialization as the super-fast wireless technology is applied to a variety of industries and scenarios, including video conferencing and online medicine Consultations, distance learning, short videos, live streaming and gaming.

“The country’s increased efforts to accelerate the deployment of 5G and expand its application are conducive to promoting the digital and intelligent transformation of traditional industries and promoting the high-quality development of the digital economy,” Xiang said.

In addition, China has already established the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group, a flagship platform in China to promote 6G and international cooperation, and will accelerate the research and development of 6G technology, he added.

As a next-generation mobile communication technology, 6G will be integrated with advanced computing, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain, according to a white paper published by the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group.

According to the report, the world is expected to see the commercialization of 6G around 2030, and the 6G network will realize the deep integration of the physical and virtual worlds, building a new world that offers the intelligent connection of everything.

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Although there is no universally accepted definition of 6G, the technology is predicted to offer faster speeds, lower latency and more bandwidth than 5G.

Wen Ku, secretary-general of China Communications Standards Association, stressed the importance of forward-looking layout in 6G technology, adding that efforts to promote 5G commercialization will lay a solid foundation for 6G development.

He called for strengthening international cooperation in 6G-related technology, standards, research and development, testing and application, and supporting the formation of global 6G standards.

More efforts should be made to conduct basic research on wireless frontier technology, including new material applications, millimeter-wave theory and terrestrial and satellite communications, said Wu Hequan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.