Major Chinese Telecoms Now Shutting Down 3G Networks To Make Way For 5G

China Mobile 5G
A woman looks at her mobile phone next to a 5G sign (Photo: Reuters)

To make way for new 5G infrastructure and development, China Mobile has announced that it will be shutting down its 3G networks in several areas around China. The company will reportedly now begin disabling a number of its 3G standard TD-SCDMA base stations. According to a statement made by city radio regulators, the first station that will be shut down will be a station located in Fuzhou in East China's Fujian province.

China Mobile is following the footsteps of its main rivals in the country, namely China Unicom and China Telecom. Both companies have also been taking steps to reduce their use of 2G and 3G frequencies over the past few months. The move is a necessary one for the companies in order for them to make more radio frequencies available for higher-speed mobile signals.

The process of decommissioning the hundreds of base stations across the country will, of course, take some time. In a previous statement released by China Unicom, it was revealed that the process will not occur immediately, and they will be informing users when they shut down 2G and 3G signals in a particular area. Major cities that have already shifted to higher bandwidth signals will likely have their 2G and 3G signals shut down first. This will then be followed by more rural and remote areas.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, there are still more than 400 million people in the country that use 2G and 3G signals. About 1.17 billion out of the 1.57 billion mobile users in the country have already shifted to 4G. As for China Mobile, the company still has more than 210 million users that are on 2G and 3G networks. According to tech experts, completely shutting down 2G networks may actually be harder than it sounds, given that the signal is actually what it used to make phone calls. The companies would have to completely reroute those calls to newer networks if they want to completely shut down 2G in China.

Telecommunications companies and users alike will stand to benefit from the shutdown of low bandwidth frequencies such as 2G and 3G. The reallocation of these frequencies to more modern signals will result in improved 4G quality and coverage around China. The decommissioning of the older standards will also allow telecommunication companies to develop infrastructure for 5G. Last December, China had already issued licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, to begin construction of their nationwide 5G network infrastructures.  The companies have also been allowed to start using low-and-medium frequency spectrums to test out their 5G networks. 

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