National Business Daily:
We noticed that 5G has played an important role both in the epidemic prevention and control work and in the resumption of work and production. Can you explain the progress in promoting the 5G network?
Thank you for your question. We really value the development of 5G technology, and have been issuing 5G licenses since June 6, 2019. Three enterprises officially launched 5G networks on Oct. 31, 2019. Since then, 5G in China has grown rapidly. Generally speaking, although we have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the development of 5G has so far gone fairly smooth, and we have been making clear achievements for a while. As a matter of fact, 5G has now gradually permeated into people's everyday lives.
First, we are "close to the network." Construction of the 5G network has been progressing rapidly. By the end of March, 198,000 5G base stations had been set-up across the country, and the number of 5G package users exceeded 50 million. We have observed from the network that currently over 20 million 5G devices have actually been connected to the 5G network.
Second, we are "close to the products." The development of devices has entered a boom period, which is very good news for the people. By April 22, a total of 96 models of 5G cellphones have received the network permits. Compared to the number at the end of December last year, which was 39 models, this is a significant development. The price of 5G cellphones has also dropped quickly. Some 5G cellphones currently available on the market are priced at under 2,000 yuan. 5G business-use professional modules, telecommunication modules in cellphones, and modules on devices installed in industrial productions have also been introduced. They support various apps used on 5G 8K televisions, 5K industrial production lines, intelligent transportation systems and more.
Third, we are "close to apps." Multiple applications have started to be launched. The apps installed in consumer spending areas, such as ultra high definition (UHD) videos, cloud games, AR and VR, are being implemented much more widely. 5G technologies have also been embedding deeper in key areas like car-networking, industrial internet and medical health areas on a trial basis. In particular, since the COVID-19 outbreak, the implantation of apps in 5G plus remote medical cares, intelligent medical treatment robots, sterilizing drones, online education, and home working has been accelerated. They have brought more visual 5G experiences for a vast number of customers.
At present, faced with the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, 5G technologies, which have served as a key engine for the digital economy, are providing significant new infrastructures and assuring everything can be connected. They have played an important role in the aspects of stabilizing investment, stimulating consumer spending and helping in updating. Next, we will continue to speed up the construction and promotion of the 5G network, optimize the environment for innovation, and inject new energy into economic growth. We will conduct our work in the following aspects:
First, we will strengthen the basis and build a high quality network. To promote the development of the 5G network, the MIIT implemented the Notice for Accelerating 5G Network Development. According to this document, while assuring basic telecommunication enterprises market entities play their part and are secured by local governmental policies, we will push telecommunication enterprises to make use of these local policies. Many local governments have established special policies to speed up the development of 5G-related economies. We hope that enterprises will prioritize their construction in these areas with maximum support. In the meantime, these enterprises should launch the outbreak prevention and control work smoothly as a basis, and their resumption of work and production must be well conducted. During construction of the 5G network, a series of procedures will be carried out, such as designing, investigating and bidding. This requires enterprises to further optimize their working procedures, push working schedules and pool resources in order to accelerate the construction of the 5G network. We expect to accomplish this year's goals and hope that 500,000 new 5G base stations will be constructed. We also encourage both upstream and downstream businesses in the industrial chain to enhance cooperation, perfect their R&D and testing of 5G, and ensure the quality of 5G network constructions. We will also continue to perfect the equipment of independent networking modules and speed up the transition from dependent networking to independent networking.
Second, we will focus on innovation to unleash the potential of consumption. Manufacturers are encouraged to strengthen research, development and innovation, which will allow them to provide a variety of cost-effective 5G-supported smartphones to a huge number of costumers. Meanwhile, the telecommunication operators will take certain measures, such as gradually reducing internet charges and allowing purchases of handouts with credits, to boost consumption of 5G-based technologies. Additionally, we will bolster the integrated research and development of 5G modules and industrial terminals to promote the innovation and large-scale applications of ambient intelligence supported by 5G. We will stimulate the rapid growth of information consumption, seizing emerging opportunities with 5G applications such as online education, online medical care, and remote work, and enhancing the development of virtual and augmented realities plus 5G, livestreaming contests, games and entertainment, and virtual shopping.
Third, we will address underlying problems, especially those of a general scope. 5G technologies are being applied not only to households but also to businesses and industries. For the use of 5G technologies in various industries, we will launch pilot programs to create virtual private networks through engineering-based approaches. Simultaneously, 5G network structure and its technological solutions will be made available and adaptable to the various demands of users from vertical industries, responding particularly to enterprises' concerns over localized data and independent network access control. The expansion and exploration of 5G technologies, from being applied to pure individual clients to covering both personal and corporate customers, will accelerate, and a consensus will be reached on standards, construction and business models concerning the application of 5G technologies across industries. Therefore, this development can be advanced from a nascent stage and put into real use. Thank you.