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China set to become largest 5G market by 2025

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A GSMA study forecast the nation will reach 428 million 5G subscribers by that time

China is expected to represent 39% of global 5G connections by 2025, according to a new study by GSMA Intelligence and the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT). The study was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai.

“Operators in China are collaborating closely with government and enterprises to launch what will become one of the largest 5G deployments in the world,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “In its early phase, 5G will offer an enhanced mobile broadband experience that will enable next-generation consumer services such as augmented and virtual reality, while at the same supporting mission-critical applications across a range of industry verticals.”

The report states that Chinese operators are expected to deploy ‘standalone’ 5G networks, which will require the construction of new base stations.  However, the report notes another option being considered in several other Asia markets is to deploy non-standalone 5G networks that would run on existing infrastructure supplemented by targeted small cell deployment in areas of high density, allowing 4G and 5G services to run in parallel.

4G penetration continues to grow in the Chinese market and GSMA believes that there is still a lot of room for this technology to grow. As a result, 4G and 5G networks are expected to co-exist in China for a considerable period of time.

According to the GSMA study, in an initial phase, 5G networks will concentrate on boosting the capacity of 4G networks to support rising mobile data traffic demands. 5G will also enable enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services such as 4K/8K Ultra-HD video and augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications.

The study also highlights that key vertical markets for 5G applications in China include automotive and transport, logistics, energy and utilities monitoring, security, finance, healthcare, industrial, and agriculture.

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