Despite COVID-19 China has cemented its position as the global 5G leader, report says

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China has maintained its position as the world’s 5G network leader, despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report published by GSMA, a trade body for mobile operators worldwide. 

Help from state-owned mobile operators

The report shows that China has managed to stay ahead of the 5G game with the help of huge investment from Chinese state-owned mobile operators and growing 5G enthusiasm from both businesses and consumers.

“operators aim to expand standalone 5G network coverage and capacity”

Sihan Bo Chen, GSMA

“China is leading early adoption in 5G and has already built more than 160,000 5G base stations covering more than 50 cities as operators aim to expand standalone 5G network coverage and capacity,” said Sihan Bo Chen, Head of Greater China, GSMA.

“Unlocking the benefits of these next-generation networks, flexible policies, including for spectrum and infrastructure, are strategically important to support China’s ongoing transformation into a fully-fledged digital economy,” Chen continued.

Aggressive 5G base station timetable

The success of China’s digital infrastructure relies on the roll-out of 5G networks and big data centres, both driving increased connectivity for consumers and businesses across the county. However, as the coronavirus pandemic has seen large parts of China in lockdown, there have been doubts that the country can stick to its aggressive timetable for installing 5G base stations.

Earlier this month, Xinhua reported that a symposium attended by chairmen of the country's top mobile operators had said that China would “China will quicken the development of 5G technology to crank up the economic engine in the battle against the novel coronavirus outbreak.”

“5G technology plays an important role not only in epidemic control and work resumption, but in promoting investment, consumption and economic upgrading as well”, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology, via source, Xinhua. 

550,000 5G base stations by the end of 2020

According to Xinhua, China’s three largest telecoms operators - China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile have said 80 percent of the country's 5G network construction was on schedule in the first two months, while more than 550,000 5G base stations were expected to be put into operation nationwide, by the end of this year.

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Rachael Sharpe

Rachael is a British journalist with 17 years experience in the publishing industry. Since launching, she’s been freelancing, and working for some of the world’s best-loved websites and magazines including and and has also had a book, iPad for Photographers, published. A regular contributor at 5Gradar, Rachael is following the 5G market closely. Find out more at