China will target a large-scale commercial launch of 5G in the first half of 2020, prompting global telecom players to follow suit, ramp up their resource allocation and expand their businesses in the country, industry insiders said.
Pre-commercial testing of 5G services is being planned for the second half of 2019.
During this process, major global telecom players including Ericsson AB, Intel Inc, and Qualcomm Inc are expected to sew up an array of partnerships with Chinese counterparts.
For these companies, cross-border and cross-industry partnerships are the key to the 5G race, they said.
A case in point is that Ericsson formed a tie-up with the China Mobile Research Institute and US tech giant Intel in June this year, to complete a 5G call that is compliant with cellular industry standards and specifications. The telecom call was the world's first such test.
"It marks a milestone with our ecosystem partners on the path to 5G commercialization, building on our years of research and standardization," said Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice-president and head of business area networks for Ericsson.
The Swedish telecom equipment maker also said it will cooperate with China Mobile to conduct a 5G field trial in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, where the demonstration system will be deployed and tested.
Such intensive participation of global 5G players in China's telecom field would benefit local players and their Chinese partnerships as well.
Huang Yuhong, deputy general manager of the CMRI, said: "The 5G call was an important milestone for the commercialization of 5G standards and will lay a solid foundation for China Mobile in our large-scale 5G trial, enabling the success of the global 5G industry."
Intel has teamed up with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, a major telecom equipment maker, to play a key role in China's 5G trials.
Wu Geng, a chief technologist for wireless standards at Intel, said 5G is of paramount importance to Intel because it will usher in a new era of increasingly integrated computing and telecom platforms.
US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc also announced earlier this year a partnership with Chinese smartphone maker Oppo. The two firms aim to cooperate for more 5G solutions.
In a first for Chinese smartphone makers, Oppo successfully connected 5G signals and data links using a pre-commercial stage 5G smartphone developed on the basis of its Oppo R15 model.
The handset is enabled by the Qualcomm Inc's Snapdragon X50 5G modem. The test validated crucial technologies that can be used to accelerate the development of 5G smartphones.
"Qualcomm has helped drive the development of China's wireless communications network from 2G, 3G to 4G and now to 5G," said Frank Meng, chairman of Qualcomm China.
He also said China is an important market for Qualcomm and the company will continue to beef up its partnerships and relations with other stakeholders in the country.