China launches 5G months ahead of schedule

Business & Technology

China launched 5G networks nationwide on October 31. China’s three big telecom companies — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom — started selling 5G plans starting at 128 yuan per month on November 1, two months before an original start date of early 2020.

Photo credit: SupChina illustration

If you live in a major Chinese city, own a new smartphone, and have 128 yuan ($18.21) in your pocket, you can now start using cell networks that are as much as 100 times faster than before.

China launched 5G networks nationwide on October 31. China’s three big telecom companies — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom — started selling 5G plans starting at 128 yuan per month on November 1, two months before an original start date of early 2020. According to Reuters, the technology “promises to support new features such as autonomous driving,” so it has many innovative applications beyond the ability to download an entire movie in seconds, though it can also do that.

Beijing essentially deemed 5G an urgent national priority in early June, after the U.S. government began attacking Chinese 5G leader Huawei.

China has already pulled ahead of the U.S. in terms of how many cell towers it has capable of beaming 5G signals, and that gap is set to grow rapidly, the Wall Street Journal reports.