China trials 5G network in Shanghai after Huawei banned abroad

The country is expanding coverage into its most remote regions, including Tibet

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(CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Shanghai has launched a district-wide 5G network trial, making it the first city in the world with 5G coverage.

The test run began Saturday (March 30) in the city’s Hongkou District backed by carrier China Mobile, according to state-run media company CGTN. Shanghai Vice-Mayor Wu Qing reportedly made a 5G video call on the new Huawei Mate X foldable phone during a launch ceremony.

CGTN reports Shanghai is set to build over 10,000 5G base stations by the end of 2019, and aims to surpass 30,000 in 2021.

China is ensuring 5G coverage is available in even its most remote regions. Three 5G stations were established last month in Tibet, according to Times of India, despite adverse weather conditions on the Qinghai Plateau rendering network operations difficult.

The low level of economic development in the region means 5G will be of little use to the majority of Tibetans, though analysts have pointed out the next generation network will be crucial to military operations in the future. Tibetan autonomy continues to be a contentious issue in China, and 5G network speeds will likely assist the national army in suppressing dissent.

The involvement of China’s Huawei Technologies in building 5G networks internationally has become a point of controversy. Several countries have banned Huawei’s involvement in their network upgrades due to national security concerns.

The company holds extensive ties with the Chinese government and military, and U.S. authorities claim the Chinese could tap into data transmitted via 5G networks for political gain.

Taipei held its 2019 Smart City Summit & Expo last week, where representatives from the world’s leading mobile service providers discussed the future of 5G. 5G technology is expected to be commercially available in Taiwan by 2020.