China Mobile plans 5G launch in 2019

China Mobile plans to offer a full 5G service by the end of 2019 – one year earlier than the 2020 date that many agreed would witness the arrival of the first next generation commercial networks.

The accelerated date is set to be made possible thanks to a technology known as ‘Slicing Packet Network’ (PSN), which will help operators manage network architecture, bandwidth, traffic, latency and time synchronisation.

Slicing is seen as a key characteristic of 5G networks and will effectively allow operators to section off certain parts of the network for certain applications. For example, one network slice could carry video traffic at a stadium, while another is reserved for safety officials.

China Mobile 5G plans

China Mobile believes the combination of SPN with Flexible Ethernet (FlexE) will guarantee the quality of service and isolation between various slices in the transport layer.

It wants the UN-affiliated International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to standardise SPN and has enlisted the support of hardware and software testing firm Viavi to create a common platform that can be used by network equipment manufacturers, chip developers and transceiver makers.

"In order to realize China Mobile's vision of introducing 5G service by the end of 2019, principal technologies including SPN for transport must be standardized by the ITU-T,” said Oleg Khaykin, CEO of Viavi. “We have advanced our test technology to meet this objective, and our solutions are ready to support the China Mobile ecosystem of partners to deliver interoperable network infrastructure."

State-owned China Telecom is the world’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscriber numbers, meaning the development is significant in the race to bring 5G to market.

China Telecom joins several other operators, including AT&T in the US and SK Telecom in South Korea, who have suggested they could launch 5G in 2019. It is unclear if any UK operator will achieve this deadline, especially given the ongoing delays to the auction of 2.3 GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.