China’s 5G network investments are predicted to surpass those in North America in the next few years. Source: Shutterstock

China’s 5G network investments are predicted to surpass those in North America in the next few years. Source: Shutterstock

China set to beat North America in 5G investments in 4 years

CHINA’s ambitions to become the world leader in emerging technology is no longer a secret, and the country has since been positioning itself to achieve that goal, with sizeable and strategic investments.

According to one recent forecast, China’s 5G network investments in the next four years is set to surpass that of North America’s, as it looks to migrate away from the 4G mobile network rapidly.

The report from US-based Dell’Oro Group asserted the total spending by the world’s second-largest economy would be “more than twice the size” of North America’s within the same period.

“With (global) data traffic projected to grow 3 to 4 times over the forecast period, no one is asking anymore whether there is a business case for using more spectrum and utilizing it more efficiently,” said Dell’Oro Group Senior Director, Stefan Pongratz.

In the report, he added that the scope and pace of 5G network deployment are gaining more significant momentum than initially expected.

Previously, China’s own Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a research arm of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) had predicted that the country would be spending about US$130.8 billion to US$218 billion between 2020 and 2015.

China has granted commercial 5G licenses to three of its telecommunications network operators China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, who will lead the infrastructure outlay, and added the country’s cable network giant, China Broadcasting Network into the mix last month.

The transformative power of 5G

With lightning-fast connections that could reach up to 1 Gbps, as well as being robust and reliable, 5G networks will be a crucial enabler of other emerging technologies – something which China aims to tap as it seeks to transform its economy from one based on manufacturing to technology.

The promise of 5G’s potential is already apparent in China, via a number of high profile projects.

For example, at Shanghai’s 2019 Auto Show in April, China Mobile, using a trial 5G network demonstrated how a driver could remotely control a car more than a thousand kilometers away in Beijing.

Further, China leads the world in the number of 5G patents and is currently undertaking numerous 5G pilot projects in over a dozen cities, asserting its ambitions in the next generation networks technology.

By the end of 2025, the country is expected to have 460 million 5G connections, which account for about 28 percent of China’s mobile connections in the country.

China’s quest to kick its 5G development into overdrive, however, hit a speed bump due to the country’s ongoing trade war with the US, which led to the blacklisting of the country’s telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies, effectively restricting the company from acquiring hardware, software, and services from American technology makers.

However, at the recent G20 economic summit in Osaka, Washington promised to ease restrictions if certain conditions were met.

Either way, China’s 5G dream is not likely to be derailed anytime soon.

With a robust framework and strategic policies backed up with grants and investments, the country has made significant headway in developing 5G and might make it difficult for the US or any other country to catch up.