By Wang Junling

Ninety-seven Chinese cities have newly became “gigabit cities” in 2023, meaning they gained the capability to offer gigabit 5G and gigabit optical fiber services, known as “dual gigabit,” said China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) recently.

Building gigabit cities is a landmark project of new digital infrastructure development in China. As of the end of October 2023, all households in China’s gigabit cities had been covered by gigabit optical fiber services. On average, there were 21.2 5G base stations per 10,000 people in gigabit cities. The average proportion of 10G-PON ports stood at 53.7 percent. The average proportion of users with speed of 500Mbps or higher reached 33.2 percent, and the average 5G users account for 49.2 percent.

In gigabit cities, over 99.5 percent of public hospitals that rank at the top of China’s three-tier grading system, key universities, cultural and tourist areas, as well as train stations (above second class) offering passenger services, main airports, and key roads were covered by 5G network, the MIIT said, adding that the accessibility rate stood at 100 percent in 91 of these cities.

Gigabit cities have vigorously promoted the innovation and application of gigabit 5G and optical fiber technologies, and actively explored the deployment and construction plans as well as business models for the coordinated development of “dual gigabit.”. This has enabled various industries to improve productivity and efficiency.

For example, in Zhuzhou, central China’s Hunan province, the efficiency of topcoat painting quality inspection has been improved by 30 percent thanks to the application of 5G+ smart factories. Shijiazhuang in north China’s Hebei province has leveraged “dual gigabit” networks to build intelligent hospitals, leading to a 50 percent improvement in the efficiency of X-ray image processing. In Ziyang, southwest China’s Sichuan province, technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things, big data, and cloud computing have been utilized to enhance the Internet plus government services.

How the list of gigabit cities in China is getting longer and longer? According to an official with the MIIT, those new gigabit cities continuously increased policy support to encourage various market entities to actively participate in the construction of gigabit cities. Efforts have been made to address the bottlenecks, difficulties, and pain points in the construction and application of “dual gigabit” networks.

For instance, some gigabit cities have strengthened policy support by incorporating fiber optic network construction and 5G site planning into the same-level national land and spatial planning. Baoji in northwest China’s Shaanxi province and Lhasa, capital of Xizang autonomous region have introduced relevant policies to support the development of “dual gigabit.” Zhongshan in south China’s Guangdong province and Danzhou in south China’s Hainan province have included fiber optic network construction plans in the same-level national land and spatial information platform.

In addition, in terms of reducing the construction costs of “dual gigabit”, some gigabit cities have exempted or reduced rental fees for occupying public places to construct fiber optic networks, 5G base stations and other communication infrastructure.

Harbin in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province has opened up tourist attractions, parks, green spaces, street lamps and other public facilities for free 5G base station construction. Zhumadian in central China’s Henan province, Anshan in northeast China’s Liaoning province and some other places have promoted unconditional free opening of facilities owned by government agencies, public institutions, as well as public places like airports, train stations, high-speed rail stations, etc. for 5G base station construction.

The MIIT said it will leverage the exemplary and leading role of gigabit cities, strengthen exchanges of typical experiences, promote a pattern where key cities take the lead and other cities develop simultaneously, and foster a favorable environment for development.


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