By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
China as the origin country got the jump on battling the coronavirus, but this past November, two months before the new virus was detected there, it also got a boost on the rest of the world by rolling out 5G technology to much of its citizenry.
In a forecast released this week, eMarketer says that China with its head start is projected to amass 807 million mobile connections to 5G by the year 2025, compared to 231 million in Europe during that period and 205 million in North America. (As eMarketer duly notes, the Chinese population is four times greater than that of the United States.)
U.S. Rollout Still Progressing
In the United States and elsewhere globally, the next generation of wireless technology has been in the works for several years, but most consumers have yet to witness its effects because of the limited number of cellular networks and devices available.
U.S. carriers remain optimistic that a full rollout of 5G will be in place by the end of 2020, despite some delays that have been caused by the spread of the new coronavirus to American soil. Once existing 4G LTE is converted to 5G, tech companies believe they will be better poised to enable such emerging technologies as autonomous driving, health tech, and virtual and augmented reality.
Once 5G is fully in place, smartphone users also will benefit — from faster speeds, lower latency (data-speed delays) and increased support for their devices. The new technology promises speeds that will be up to 100 times faster, with response times up to 20 times faster.
Verizon started 2019 with 5G in a handful of cities and has said it will expand that coverage to 30-plus cities this year. AT&T offers the new tech in a variety of cities, too, though its initial users need a 5G hotspot to enjoy it. T-Mobile and Sprint will be rolling out 5G service soon, now that the merger of those two companies has been officially approved.
There’s also the matter of making smartphones and other devices that are 5G ready, once there’s a 5G network connection available for them.
Samsung with its recently released Galaxy S20 phone supports certain 5G networks where available, and other Android devices plan to start shipping 5G-ready devices soon. Apple, meanwhile, isn’t expected to release a 5G-ready phone till September or October, when it typically unveils its newest models.
What China’s Citizens Like About 5G Thus Far
In its 5G forecast, eMarketer reported several reasons why China, where the three major telecom operators plan to build at least 500,000 5G base stations in 2020, “is well-prepared to be the next 5G leader.”
For one, it points to an iResearch Consulting Group study that shows Chinese users are excited by 5G for these reasons: fast internet (55.5% of users studied), a stable signal (53.1%), ultrahigh-definition videos (41.2%) and playing high-definition online games without interruptions (29.2%).
China’s top carriers also have been busy producing 5G mobile phones, with eMarketer saying that the number-one producer, Huawei, reportedly sold 6.9 million 5G phones last year.
And, Chinese users have seen that “bold 5G experimentation” already has begun in China, with eMarketer noting:
“Chinese tech companies like JD.com and CloudMinds have used the coronavirus outbreak as a springboard for launching new 5G-based initiatives like service robots, unmanned vehicles and drones to eliminate human-to-human contact or deliver supplies. Several hospitals in the city of Wuhan were also using 5G networks for remote diagnosis during the height of the outbreak.
“Separately, a pilot zone in Chongqing has been set up to test 5G-backed remote driving, where driverless cars can be steered remotely, and the technology is currently being showcased at trade shows countrywide.”