China aims to nurture 560 million 5G mobile subscribers by the end of 2023, and grow the penetration rate of the fast wireless technology among big industrial enterprises to 35 percent by then, a three-year plan jointly unveiled by 10 government bodies disclosed on Tuesday.
The announcement of the twin goals reflects China's vigorous promotion of the comprehensive and coordinated development of 5G and its efforts to further widen the use of 5G in order to empower a wide range of industries.
The three-year plan was published by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and nine other government bodies.
The application of 5G in different sectors, it said, is important to promote the digital, networked, and intelligent transformation of the economy and society.
Liu Liehong, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said on Tuesday that China has built 916,000 5G base stations so far, accounting for 70 percent of the world's total.
The number of 5G connections has exceeded 365 million, accounting for 80 percent of the world's total.
According to the three-year plan, China aims to grow the penetration rate of 5G among individual consumers to 40 percent by the end of 2023, with 5G data accounting for more than half of overall online traffic.
In the enterprise market, the plan called for efforts to popularize the use of 5G in big industrial enterprises, and to scale up its application in grid, mining and other sectors.
The scope of pilot projects involving 5G plus connected vehicles will be further expanded and efforts will also be made to accelerate the digital transformation of the agriculture sector.
To lay sound telecom infrastructure, China will accelerate the rollout of 5G networks, with the aim of having more than 18 5G base stations per 10,000 people by the end of 2023.
Wang Zhiqin, deputy head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, said China is likely to achieve several breakthroughs in its technological evolution, network construction and applications over the next five years.
"By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China will have built the world's largest and most extensive stand-alone 5G network and basically achieve full network coverage in urban and rural areas," Wang said.
This year, China will build more than 600,000 5G base stations, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Ding Yun, president of Huawei's carrier business group, said:"5G is no longer for early adopters. It is improving our daily lives. 2021 will be the first year with large-scale 5G industry applications. Operators will need new capabilities in network planning, deployment, maintenance, optimization and operations, in order to achieve zero to one, and replicate success from one to many."
According to Ding, Huawei's 5G applications have already been deployed in more than 20 industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education and logistics.
The technology has already proved its worth in coal mining, steelmaking and manufacturing by making production safer, more intelligent, and more efficient, he said.