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While China strives to create a more tech-friendly environment, it seems that Russia, vice versa, is making some steps back.
Officially, China has now joined the list of countries that have fully launched 5G services to consumers. On Friday, Chinese mobile operators made 5G available in many parts, as the country continues several efforts to lead the world regarding tech offerings.
China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have now announced several 5G options for all of their individual customers, probably as a way to catch up with other countries that have already done the same this year including the U.S., the U.K., and South Korea as well.
For a long time now, the U.S. and China have been neck-deep in a trade war that has seen both sides fire out with the aim of hurting the other side, especially with several tariffs. For China, the 5G unveiling was not expected until sometime next year and many people all over the world are a little surprised that the decision was made to move the schedule this considerably, giving credence to the idea that it may have been spurred by its need to be at par with other countries, especially the U.S.
For example, the U.S. has been quite averse to Huawei for a while now. The U.S. government has claimed that the phone making giant’s devices could be used to spy in the U.S., declaring them a possible threat to national security. The government has even gone one step further, asking other countries to abandon Huawei, specifically from their 5G options.
With all of China’s moves however, there are worries in some quarters that proper adoption, especially if that is what this early release means, might be a bit of a pipe dream. This is because prices currently begin at 128 yuan ($18), which many analysts agree might be a little too expensive for most people to actually consider.
Based on cost per gigabyte, 5G in China is still cheaper than 4G options and it has also been pointed out that China’s $0.39 price for one gigabyte is pretty much the same as Korea’s $0.38. Still, experts believe that adoption would take a while at that price. Edison Lee, an analyst with Jefferies Financial Group explains this saying:
“As China’s per-capita income is 69% below that of Korea, similar pricing would likely mean China will have a lower penetration than Korea.”
Another factor to be considered for 5G penetration in China is the fact that there aren’t enough devices that are 5G-enabled. But more importantly, it is thought that apart from pricing, many users might not see a big enough need to move to 5G from 4G because there isn’t much that the bulk of consumers currently do, which would immediately warrant the move.
China has been making reasonable strides with tech, especially blockchain technology. Since President Xi Jinping pretty much endorsed the tech, there has been a palpable new blockchain era in the country with the government and other institutions, becoming a lot more pro-blockchain.
Russia, on the other hand, seems to be taking a step back as it recently signed a “Sovereign Internet” law into effect. Basically, the law seeks to sort of disconnect Russia from the world and tighten the government’s grip on the internet by creating its own filter through which internet content will be routed. Eventually, the system might operate away from the more common worldwide web. With this, Russia is pretty much set to become a “China of the past” even though many experts believe that enforcing this would be tantamount to preventing free speech, making it near impossible.