The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Thursday officially rolled out commercial 5G licenses, making a crucial step for next-generation 5G commercial use.
The ministry granted licenses to the nation's major three telecom carriers — China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom — as well as the state-owned China Broadcasting Network Corp.
The move marks an accelerated push by China in 5G application. Its previous plan was to commercialize the technology in 2020.
"The 5G licensing will help deepen structural reform in the telecom industry, improve the level of social and economic informatization and assist several leading companies with global competitiveness," China Mobile chairman Yang Jie said.
China Mobile claimed its 5G services will be available in more than 40 cities by the end of September..
China Telecom also said in a statement the 5G licensing will be a key step to build the country into a "cyber power". The company added the issuance is also conductive to gaining a competitive edge in the telecom sector, which will help drive technological innovation, embrace industrial upgrades as well as boost high-quality economic growth.
China Unicom noted it will continue to welcome foreign companies to participate in domestic 5G construction.
Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei said China welcomes foreign companies to actively participate in the construction of China's 5G market and share the benefits generated in the market.
Raymond Wang, partner with global consultancy firm Roland Berger, highlighted China's commitment to further deepen opening-up.
"Miao's remarks showed China's positive attitude toward reform and opening-up, as well as its determination to build the world's biggest 5G market," Wang said. "China has the confidence to compete with foreign companies in the market."
Many foreign telecom companies applauded the move and the country's commitment to international cooperation, saying issuing licenses will accelerate 5G application and development.
Qualcomm China chairman Meng Pu said this marks the official opening of China's 5G year, adding cooperation will be key for the 5G development.
Another US tech company, Intel Corp, said it is committed to supporting global 5G development.
"We will continue to deepen cooperation with Chinese tech industries to promote 5G development." Intel said.
"The cooperation with multinational companies is highly regarded by the Chinese government, which makes us more confident in the healthy, steady and sustainable development of China's 5G industry," Nokia China President Markus Borchert said.
According to Borchert, the company will fully support local operators' network deployments and fully leverage its own advantages in Sino-EU innovation cooperation, its leadership within international standardization organizations and its experience serving customers around the world to assist China's active engagement in the global 5G ecosystem.
Swedish telecom equipment maker Ericsson also said in a recent statement to China Daily it is ready to partner with local companies to promote 5G deployment.
"Issuing 5G licenses is conducive to promoting positive development of China's 5G market and lays a good foundation for 5G applications," Ericsson said, adding the move will also promote efforts to explore 5G business models.
5G licensing will be a significant boost to the domestic economy, as it will drive the transformation and upgrade of the real economy, promote 5G application in various fields including manufacturing and agriculture and boost the digital economic growth, said Wang Zhiqin, head of the IMT2020 (5G) Promotion Group, a team established by the ministry to accelerate development of 5G in China.
"Issuing a license for China Broadcasting Network Corp, a new 5G carrier, will help build a next-generation communication network," Wang added. "Granting four 5G licenses is conductive to fostering rational competition and investment in the market."
According to Wang, the ministry will take key measures to promote 5G application, strengthen industrial management, better allocate resources, encourage companies to participate in 5G network construction and further integrate 5G with vertical industries.
The high-speed 5G technology is expected to revolutionize the tech world in the near future, as it will be able to transmit data at least 10 times faster than 4G.
In the 5G era, higher reliability and lower latency can be realized, making the internet of things more effective and enabling previously impossible tasks in the 4G era, such as overseeing self-driving vehicles.
Telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co said in a statement on Thursday it is ready to help China accelerate commercial use of 5G.
Huawei's global pioneering capability to offer 5G solutions can support Chinese telecom carriers in building a sound network. China will lead the world in commercializing superfast wireless technology, the company said.
Huawei has invested about $2 billion into research and development of 5G since 2009.
ZTE Corp, another Chinese telecom vendor, said in a statement its products are ready for commercial use and it will actively participate in the commercial deployment and construction of 5G networks in China, and work closely with industry partners to actively promote 5G application.
China is set to become the world's largest 5G market by 2025, with 460 million users according to a forecast by industry group Global System for Mobile Communications Association.
The country's telecom carriers are forecasted to spend 900 billion to 1.5 trillion yuan ($134 billion to $223 billion) in total on 5G network construction from 2020 to 2025, according to a report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.