(Yicai Global) Aug. 13 -- China Telecom, one of the country's three largest state-owned carriers, will issue mobile phone numbers for its fifth-generation wireless network next month, starting in Beijing, the Beijing Daily reported today. They had been due for release on Oct. 1.
The earlier start for 5G commercial services in China comes on the heels of Huawei Technologies and ZTE, two major telecoms equipment makers, releasing the nation's first 5G mobile phones this month.
"The new SIM cards are for people joining the China Telecom network," a staff member said. "Current subscribers only need to purchase a 5G handset in order to upgrade to 5G and will not need to change their SIM card or phone number."
The 5G network is expected to cost customers between CNY199 (USD28) and CNY599 per month. This is more expensive than current 4G pricing, but as traffic volume is expected to be much higher than 4G, the unit cost will actually be cheaper.
It should not be too long before prices drop, telecom expert Xiang Ligang said. If the other two major telecom providers, China Unicom and China Mobile, price their initial 5G packages below CNY150, then costs should drop to less than CNY100 by the beginning of next year.
The 5G handsets made by Shenzhen-based Huawei and ZTE are available for between CNY4,999 (USD707) and CNY6,199. The industry expects low and medium-end 5G phones priced around CNY3,000 to be on the market next year.