China will build more than 600,000 5G base stations in 2021 as the nation accelerates the rollout of wireless technology, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The plan comes with China already having built more than 718,000 5G base stations as of mid-December and with 5G signals available in more than 300 cities at prefecture level and above.
The nation will promote the building and application of 5G networks in an orderly manner, accelerate 5G coverage in major cities and advance cooperative construction and sharing of 5G base stations among telecom operators, Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, said at a conference on Monday.
More efforts will be made to carry out industrial 5G network pilot projects by focusing on 10 key industries and forming 20 typical industrial application scenarios, Xiao said, without offering more details.
The 5G rollout plan for next year will lay a sound telecom infrastructure for deeper integration of the digital and real economies, help stabilize investment and accelerate industrial upgrades, experts said.
Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said China has already built the largest commercial 5G network, and the nation's consumer and industrial internet have also entered the fast lane.
"The greater emphasis on the industrial private 5G network next year will quicken the application of digital technologies in traditional sectors and help the nation seek high-quality development of manufacturing," Xiang said.
Over 1,100 projects that focus on implementing the integration of 5G and the industrial internet were being built across China as of November, the ministry said.
Industrial Securities, a Chinese securities firm, said in a research note that the 5G network construction plan for 2021 is roughly in line with market expectations. With the rise of Chinese companies in the telecommunications industrial chain in the era of 5G, the profitability of Chinese telecom operators and telecom gear vendors is expected to grow.
Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, the nation's largest telecom carrier, said the company plans to achieve sound 5G coverage in cities, counties and key towns next year.
The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, has said that China is likely to spend 1.2 trillion yuan ($183.7 billion) on 5G network construction by 2025, driving more than 3.5 trillion yuan of investment in the upstream and downstream industrial chains and other related sectors by then.
Liu Duo, head of the academy, said about 20 percent of 5G applications will be consumer-oriented, and 80 percent of its commercial potential lies in its use in traditional sectors. As a result, the combination of 5G and the industrial internet will be of greater importance to China's push for large-scale industrial upgrades.