China’s three state telecoms on Thursday announced the release 5G mobile phone services, as Beijing is rushing to become a technology superpower.
China Mobile’s, China Unicom and China Telecom’s said on their websites and online stores that 5G plans, which start from as low as 128 yuan a month, will be available from Friday. More than 10 million subscribers in China have pre-registered for 5G.
With the moves, China will have the largest commercial operating 5G network in the world on Friday.
Authorities have said that they plan to install over 50,000 5G base stations across 50 Chinese cities in the country by the end of this year, and that big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou, are already covered by the 5G network.
Chinese companies from Xiaomi to Huawei have also unveiled new products in anticipation of the 5G roll out, with Huawei saying that it anticipates to start seeing a revenue uplift from the sector next year.
Smartphone marker Xiaomi said earlier this month that it plans to launch more than 10 5G phones next year.
China Mobile Ltd. is offering discounts of as much as 30% for users that pre-registered for 5G. Consumers buying 5G handsets from the carrier will get as much as 600 yuan ($85) off and gifts worth 699 yuan.
China Unicom and No. 2China Telecom Corp. are also offering similar discounts to pre-registered users, along with other discounts and gifts via online lotteries and through their branches throughout the country.
South Korea’s wireless carriers were the first to offer commercial 5G services, with SK Telecom Co. launching its network in April and Samsung already offering a 5G-enabled smartphone. Total 5G subscribers have surpassed 3 million in the country, although consumer reaction has been mixed.
The 5G network’s coverage was initially incomplete, leaving users to fall back on 4G more than some had expected, especially when using the service indoors.
In the U.S., T-Mobile US Inc. earlier this week said it will flip on a nationwide 5G service by year end. Still, the carrier doesn’t offer yet offer a 5G compatible device yet and the service will be available only on one band of airwaves.
Verizon Communications Inc. launched 5G in April and has promised to have it available in parts of 30 cities this year. Rival AT&T Inc. has 5G in areas of 21 cities and plans to offer 5G nationwide by mid 2020. Sprint Inc., which has limited 5G available in nine cities, has promised a superior 5G network if its $26.5 billion merger with T-Mobile is approved.