“5G” terminals to be available 2nd half of 2019 in China; CCS Insight’s Mobile Phone Forecast

The first set of 5G end points, including data terminals, smartphones, tablets, and other products are expected to be released in China during the second half of 2019.  That will lead to the commercialization of 5G technology in China, according to an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), Xinhua news agency reported.

Wen Ku, director of the telecom development department at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, made the remarks as part of a timetable for 5G at the First Digital China Summit, which opened Sunday in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province.  “China started 5G research experiments in 2016, and entered the third stage of system verification this year,” Wen Ku said at the ongoing first Digital China Summit in Fuzhou, capital of east China’s Fujian Province.  Wen noted that device manufacturers such as Huawei and Ericsson had participated in development of 5G products to help create a complete 5G industrial chain.

China has launched 5G cooperation mechanisms with Japan, South Korea, the European Union and the United States, with international companies joining the research and development, he noted.

Given the significantly greater speed — up to 10 gigabits per second — that 5G offers, the next-generation ultra-fast networks will see ways of life change more than in the 4G era, in virtually everything from how we “interact” with our cars to how we use the products in our homes.

In 2013, a working group focusing on 5G is established by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

At the beginning of 2016, China started its research on 5G technology. The country has finished two rounds of tests on 5G and is conducting a third round now. Initial 5G applications in China are set for 2019.

According to Beijing Youth Daily, China’s three major telecom operators including China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have been approved to set up 5G networks in big cities.

  • China Unicom will pilot 5G-technology in 16 cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Qingdao, Guiyang and Zhengzhou.  China Unicom said it has started free chip upgrading for 2G users and cut 2G frequencies for the 5G network.
  • China Mobile will launch offline testing in five cities in eastern and southern China, with each city installed with more than 100 5G stations as well as 5G application demonstrations in 12 cities.
  • China Telecom has confirmed it will pilot 5G-technology in Xiong’an, Shanghai, Suzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Lanzhou, and plans to expand the network to six more cities.


CCS Insight believes that manufacturers are increasingly looking to 5G technology to reignite growth in mature markets. Koytcheva comments, “The arrival of 5G handsets offers a glimmer of hope for embattled smartphone makers. They’re betting that this new, faster technology will give consumers a reason to upgrade their phones.”

However, Koytcheva cautions that phone-makers will have to be patient as they wait for this next wave of upgrade activity. “Although we expect the first 5G smartphones will hit the market in 2019, really significant demand won’t start until 2021, eventually having a positive impact in 2022, when we expect over 600 million 5G phones will be sold, accounting for 31 percent of the global market.”

CCS Insight also notes that while advanced markets are focused on the transition to 5G, consumers in emerging markets are taking up smartphones more slowly than previously expected. Koytcheva comments, “The rising cost of components for entry-level smartphones and the arrival of affordable feature phones that support 4G networks mean that many people who otherwise might have bought their first smartphone are sticking with a feature phone for now.”

The chart below provides a summary of CCS Insight’s mobile phone forecast.

Total shipments of mobile phones, 2013-2022

Source: CCS Insight Market Forecast: Mobile Phones Worldwide, 2018-2022