China Unicom has completed its first field test of 5G NR (new radio) technology, achieving data rates of up to 2 gigabits per second on single-user equipment via a pre-commercial ZTE 5G base station.

The base station was deployed at under 6GHz with massive MIMO, LDPC (low-density parity check) and other key 5G technologies. The test, in Shenzhen, China, used the 3.5GHz frequency band with a 100MHz bandwidth, and was conducted by ZTE together with the Guangdong branch of China Unicom, in addition to the operator’s Network Construction department and the China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute.

The field test aimed to verify 5G technical performance and the product’s commercial capabilities in the actual network environment, highlighting the deepening partnership for 5G network development between China Unicom and ZTE. In 2016, China Unicom started a 5G laboratory to verify the feasibility of potential key technologies and accelerate the development of 5G base station architecture and platforms. The companies signed a strategic cooperation agreement on joint 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) innovation In August 2016.
Following the start of 5G field testing in 2017, China Unicom is intensifying efforts on verification, with a goal of pre-commercial 5G network deployment in 2019 and large-scale deployment in 2020.

In 2017, ZTE initiated the development of NOMA (non-orthogonal multiple access) technology at 3GPP, a core project for 5G NR. ZTE is continuing to work on Phase 2 of China’s National 5G tests, successfully completing testing in seven major scenarios and setting multiple new records for network speeds and performance.

Chinese operators are also driving 5G forward with the nation’s three operators set to spend US$180 billion on 5G infrastructure over the next seven years. Spending on 5G will reportedly be 48% greater compared to 4G.