As of 2019, telecom companies around the world are rolling out 5G services, and smartphone manufacturers are beginning to launch 5G phones. China was a late bloomer in the development of 3G and 4G, but the government made scaling and upgrading telecom infrastructure a top priority and is determined to become a world leader in 5G technologies. This report from finance blog Caijing Wuji traces the transformation of China’s mobile technologies from its early days and discusses the country’s ambitions in the coming years.
China’s leading telecom providers are state-owned, so their developmental paths are aligned with China’s goal to become the world leader in telecom technologies.
At the beginning of 2009, the Chinese government granted licenses to China’s three largest telecommunications companies – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – to begin rolling out 3G technology around the country. Since all three companies are state-owned, they were assigned different technologies to work on. China Unicom worked with the most widely used 3G system WCDMA; China Telecom worked with the CDMA2000 system; while the government tasked China Mobile with building a new infrastructure around China’s own TD-SCDMA system.
From 2010 to 2014, these three companies poured staggering amounts of money into building telecom towers all over the country. The cross-country 3G rollout was barely complete before the transition to 4G began in late 2014. To make infrastructure building easier and to have all three telecom companies’ interests aligned, the Chinese government founded telecom tower construction and maintenance company...
Tao Weibin is a writer for Caijing Wuji, a finance blog on WeChat. He is known also by his penname, Yueluo Wuti.