The race is on to be the pacesetter in 5G, with many countries proclaiming technological advances. But when it comes to the weight of sheer numbers, China is at the head of the pack, with a predicted one billion users of 5G come 2023.

That’s according to research from CCS Insight, which also suggests that by 2022, half of the world’s 5G users will be in China, dwarfing efforts by other leading lights of 5G such as the US, South Korea and Japan. The adoption rate for 5G will far outpace that of 4G, observed the research firm.

Marina Koytcheva, VP of forecasting for CCS Insight, said that China would be at the forefront of development when it comes to 5G.

Koytcheva commented: “Size, scale and economic growth give China an obvious head start, but we expect network deployments to be much faster than in the early days of 4G.

“China will dominate 5G thanks to its political ambition to lead technology development, the inexorable rise of local manufacturer Huawei and the breakneck speed at which consumers have upgraded to 4G connections in the recent past.”

Wait-and-see approach?

However, there are still some obstacles that may hinder 5G take-up.  These include whether operators will be able to roll out base stations to meet demand, and whether customers will be looking to upgrade smartphones straight away – many will wait until the technology is more established, and coverage more pervasive.

At least China won’t have the problems faced by operators in Europe, who will have to overcome issues such as market fragmentation and the effects of regulation, both national and Europe-wide.

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