China builds world’s largest 5G network

Photo taken on Jan. 26 shows people passing by a 5G-themed poster in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province. (People’s Daily Online/Long Wei)

On Jan. 24, an eight-hour-long 5G webcast featuring two giant pandas from the Dujiangyan Base of the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas located in southwest China’s Sichuan province attracted a large number of viewers from both home and abroad.

“Don’t worry if you feel you haven’t got enough of them,” said Zhang Ji, an executive of China Telecom’s branch in Sichuan province, explaining that the Sichuan branch of China Telecom, one of the three major telecom operators in China, would officially launch a one-year-long online tour around Sichuan two days later.

Through 5G+4K resolution live camera broadcasting and 8K resolution+virtual reality 360-degree panoramic live streaming, the activity aims to bring immersive traveling experience to netizens through new technologies, according to Zhang.

China has built the world’s largest 5G network, indicate statistics from the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The latest data released by the MIIT on Jan. 26 show that over 600,000 5G base stations were newly built in China in 2020, which brought the total number of 5G base stations in the country to more than 718,000.

As of the end of 2020, China had achieved 5G full coverage in all cities above the prefecture-level.

This year, the country intends to build at least 600,000 more 5G base stations, while continuously deepening the construction of 5G network and promoting joint construction and shared benefits of 5G network.

The Beijing-Chengde high-speed railway, which connects China’s capital city and Chengde in north China’s Hebei province and started operation on Jan. 22, has been fully covered by 4G network. Passengers can even use 5G network in some sections of the railway.

The communication network along the high-speed rail has been jointly constructed and shared by various operators in China.

“We prefer to share rather than build new ones where there are already network facilities, and jointly build new facilities with other operators rather than all on ourselves whenever we can,” said an executive with China Tower, a participant in the construction of the communication network along the Beijing-Chengde high-speed railway.

According to the executive, 194 newly built base stations for the network covering the Beijing-Chengde high-speed railway are shared by two or more operators, and all the indoor network infrastructure in the tunnels and stations along the way are constructed by one operator and shared with others, saving costs by over 36 million yuan (about $5.6 million).

5G is rapidly entering the daily lives of ordinary Chinese people. By the end of June 2020, China had built 66 million 5G terminal connections. The number exceeded 200 million as of the end of last year.

5G mobile phones have become more and more popular because of their decreasing prices, which dropped from over 5,000 yuan when 5G smartphones were first launched to as low as about 1,000 yuan nowadays, said Wang Zhiqin, deputy director of the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) under the MIIT.

In 2020, China’s shipments of 5G mobile phones reached 163 million units, and a total of 218 new models of 5G phones were rolled out, according to Wang.

China is witnessing a “zero-to-one” breakthrough in the integrated application of 5G in various industries. The application is expected to become a major driver of high-quality economic growth, said Wang.

Last year, China had more than 1,100 “5G plus industrial Internet” projects under construction, and the number of 5G base stations serving the industrial Internet surpassed 32,000.

Meanwhile, over 60 hospitals in 19 provinces in the country used 5G network in telemedicine services, and new business forms and models such as those combining 5G network with self-driving technology, smart grid, and distance learning continued to emerge.

5G technology is playing an increasingly significant role in empowering economy, benefiting society and serving the people and is becoming an important driving force for high-quality economic growth, said Zhao Zhiguo, director of the cybersecurity management bureau of the MIIT.

Skiing craze nurtures big market in China

Though it has put a ceiling on the number of customers to be received per day, an indoor ski resort in south China’s Guangzhou city still sees a flock of tourists during the weekends.

The real-name booking system of the resort shows that 60 percent of the customers are people from southern China, since the resort opened in the summer of 2019.

A trainer instructs a child how to ski at the Yellow River Stone Forest resort in Jingtai county in northwest China’s Gansu province. (Xinhua/Cheng Nan)

The resort once received a record high of 5,000 tourists in one single day, which is unusual for an indoor ski resort, said its manager, adding that more than 80 percent of the customers were beginners.

Statistics indicate that people in southern China love skiing more than their northern counterparts do.

According to online travel agency Ctrip, four out of five of China’s ski enthusiasts are beginners, while a report on China’s snow and ice consumption in 2020 indicated that among the largest 10 sources of ski enthusiasts, 8 were in southern China, with the other two in Beijing and Zhengzhou in northern China.

According to a research report on the development of China’s snow and ice industry between 2016 and 2025, the value of China’s ice and snow industry will reach 1 trillion yuan ($141.4 billion) by 2025, and 300 million people will be motivated to engage in winter sports by then.

The craze of the Chinese people, especially beginners, for snow and ice sports, has contributed to the explosive growth of the winter sports equipment market.

To keep up with customers’ growing demand for ski suits, a sportswear company in Guangzhou established an area to sell them, arranging salespersons in the selling area. As a result, its stores have reaped a significant growth in sales volume compared with several years ago.

“Last year, we reported a growth of 132.9 percent in the volume of sales made online, 337 percent in the volume of sales made via community marketing,” said Sun Na, the brand director of sportswear company KAILAS based in Guangzhou, who added that a very popular down ski jacket of the brand had been sold out in northern China as of December 2020.

Anti-shake cameras, quick-dry clothes, ski boards, ski boots, helmets and goggles have also had a growth in sales.

In addition, Chinese parents are signing their children up for skiing courses. Wu Long, a director of a skiing training school in Guangzhou, disclosed that the school has already recruited 30 students for the first phase of training courses.

The school has nearly 100 coaches teaching students from primary, junior and senior classes, said a coach, adding that as it is the busy season now, he is always kept occupied for a whole day.

Industry insiders pointed out that China has become the largest entry-level ski market and enjoys a broad prospect for ski training.

New professions vitalize countryside

New professions in rural areas of China have not only helped boost the development of the countryside, but also allowed those who engage in the new areas to significantly increase their income, CCTV reported.

For instance, a veteran agricultural manager is capable of managing 6,000 mu (400 hectares) of fields alone. This work is what Wan Fuxu, who used to be an ordinary farmer, is doing now.

Dayi county (Photo/CCTV.com)

Wan, from Dayi county, Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province in southwest China, was among the first batch of agricultural managers in the city. He used to cultivate only several mu of his own land. Back then, working in the field as a farmer was a painstaking and low-income job. Like many young people from rural areas across the country, most young people from his village worked outside of the countryside to make a living. It saddened him to see that much of the fertile land was left abandoned.

When Chengdu launched a training program for agricultural managers in 2012, the man signed up and received training on planting techniques, pest control and prevention, and field management.

He also launched an agricultural cooperative to manage the land of farmers collectively. Today, Wan manages 6,000 mu of fields and gains a net profit of 3 million yuan (about $464,400) every year, which is beyond his imagination before he started this new career.

Wan Fuxu (Photo/CCTV.com)

Wan is one of the many agricultural managers in Chengdu. The past years have seen more than 19,000 agricultural managers in the city from all walks of life, such as young farmers, returned migrant workers and college graduates. They have received vigorous support from the municipal government, covering policies on relevant industries, science and technology, funding, and social welfare.

Another new profession is partners of rural entities. Dongzhongdu village in Sishui county, east China’s Shandong province, is a vivid example of boosting rural vitalization with the help of such partners.

Now students from primary and middle schools in nearby cities flock to the village to learn woodworking, pottery and other skills, receiving as many as about 700 students in one day. However, Dongzhongdu was still a poverty-stricken village before 2018.

In that year, Shandong launched measures to attract talents to boost rural vitalization by fostering new types of agricultural businesses, such as modern eco-agriculture and tourism.

Wang Daqiang (Photo/CCTV.com)

Wang Daqiang, who had worked in Beijing for more than 10 years, became one of them. Attracted by the village’s beautiful natural scenery, when he first visited it in 2015, he decided to run an educational research and practice base in the village for elementary and middle school students in nearby regions.

With the help of the local government, he invited more partners for his base, which opened during last year’s May Day holiday. Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the base received over 30,000 tourists during the five-day holiday, generating revenue of over 1 million yuan. The base has also created over 90 jobs for local residents.

Dongzhongdu village in Sishui county (Photo/CCTV.com)

Over the past two years, more than 170 people have become partners of woodworking workshops, pottery workshops, bookstores, B&B hotels, and other entities in Dongzhongdu, turning the once impoverished village into an internet sensation. The local government also invested nearly 70 million yuan to improve the village’s infrastructure in areas such as water supply, power supply and roads.

Thanks to the emergence of these new professions in rural areas, a growing number of talents will contribute to injecting vitality into the villages.