At the 2021 China (Shenzhen) 5G Industry Summit held a few days ago, Sun Songlin, a professor and doctoral tutor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said that China’s 5G network industry is progressing rapidly. However, he also admits that the Chinese are facing many difficulties.
As of the end of last year, China had 718,000 5G base stations, accounting for 70% of the world’s total. This year, the country will have well over 1 million 5G base stations. The areas of challenge for China include capital, energy consumption, and application.
China’s 5G challenges
First, the capital investment is large, and the later operating costs are extremely high. Also, the power consumption of 5G base stations is 1.5 to 3 times that of 4G base stations. In addition, the high construction density leads to huge overall energy consumption. Also, there is a lack of unique applications.
The total 4G investment in China exceeds 900 billion yuan ($137 billion). As of now, they have not fully recovered this cost. As of now, the investment in the Chinese 5G network has exceeded 260 billion yuan ($40 billion). If we include the later operating cost, it will hit trillions of yuan (over $152 billion).
The second is that 5G, as a new technology, must have its transition period, maturity period, decline period, and death period. The latest communication technology is commercially available, and power consumption is always the first priority. The maturity of technology needs time to polish, and it also needs to be gradually improved through user feedback.
The third is the life cycle of industrialization. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei once said that 5G will take 7 years to mature. This is quite long considering that 4G only needed 3 years.
Professor Sun Songlin’s view
“China is currently building a large-scale 5G network, which is far ahead of the world, and there are many voices of doubt in the industry. In the 4G era, China’s mobile Internet applications are number one in the world, and it is said that 4G will detonate the mobile Internet, but earlier deployments in the United States, Europe, Japan, and other countries and regions are not as prosperous as China. To be precise, it was the large-scale, wide-coverage 4G that detonated the mobile Internet. From the very beginning, 5G network will be deployed on a large scale and with a wide coverage. It is the same logic. In the process of long-term integration with the industry, new business forms will be produced and industrial upgrading and digital transformation will be promoted”.
Many scholars, outside China obviously will not agree with Sun Songlin’s view on 4G quality within and outside China.