China officially launches 5G networks on November 1

All the three state-backed telecom operators, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, unveiled their 5G plans on Thursday, one day ahead of the official launch of 5G services in the country, with the cheapest package priced as low as $18 per month.

Chinese carriers officially launched 5G services in the world's largest market on November 1, but the coverage remains limited only to major Chinese cities and key areas in lower-tier cities for the initial rollout. 

On Thursday, all three state-backed operators -- China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom -- unveiled similar 5G plans for local consumers, with plans starting at 128 yuan ($18) per month, which will provide consumers with 30GB data and 500 minutes of voice chat, according to a Sina news report

Subscribers of China Mobile that pay 598 yuan ($85) per month will be able to use 300GB of data with download speeds of up to 1Gbps, whereas the entry-level plans will only have 300Mbps download speeds.

The initial 5G services will be available in about 50 Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as second-tier provincial capital cities like Nanjing and Wuhan, according to local reports.

In Beijing, as many as 5,000 base stations have been installed by China Mobile alone, covering a majority of the core areas, but it is still unavailable for vast rural areas, according to the report. 

The launch of 5G by Chinese carriers is a step slow in comparison to local smartphone brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi, as they have already introduced several phone models over the past few months that can support 5G networks. 

But local consumers are believed to be excited about the 5G networks as more than 10 million users have registered for 5G plans from the three local Chinese carriers ahead of the launch, Chinese reports said in early October. 

Sales of 5G phones in China remain a very small portion of the overall market however, as only 219,000 5G smartphones were sold in China in August. This only accounted for 0.7% of the overall 30.8 million units of handsets sold in the country during that month, according to data from the government-backed China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.

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