5G regulation and law in China

1. What is the state of 5G deployment in your country?

According to the 5G Application Innovation Development White Paper (“5G Whitepaper”) published in November 2022 by the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (“CAICT”), a research institute that reports to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (“MIIT”), and a speech by an MIIT official at the 2022 China 5G Development Summit, by the end of September 2022 there were:

  • over 2.2 million 5G base stations nationwide, covering all prefecture-level cities, the urban areas within each county, and 96% of the countryside and towns; 
  • more than 10,000 5G industry virtual private networks built by domestic telecommunication companies; and
  • 520 million 5G cell phone service users.

2. Are telecoms companies monetising 5G investments - or are the services provided to consumers at similar prices to 4G? 

The four major telecom operators (China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Broadnet) are licensed to provide 5G services to end consumers.  

The plans and fees vary by operator and city, so we do not have an overall price comparison. We are therefore using China Unicom Shanghai’s 4G plans and 5G plans as an example:

  • the prices for each GB of traffic beyond what is included in an individual’s plan are similar for 4G and 5G; 
  • the 4G plan provides a capped monthly fee; 
  • the 5G plan does not provide a capped monthly fee, but does include more traffic volume compared to a 4G plan at the same price.

3. Has 5G been launched for industrial purposes? For which sectors?

Yes. 5G has been launched in sectors including healthcare, education, transportation, energy and manufacturing

4. What is being done to ensure that a wide range of operators and industrial companies, from small to large, have access to frequencies?

The MIIT grants 5G spectrum licences. So far, the MIIT has issued spectrum licences for public 5G networks to leading telecom operators China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Broadnet. We do not expect the authorities to bypass them by reserving specific frequency bands directly to industries and/or individuals. In 2022, the MIIT granted the first corporate private 5G network licence to Commercial Aircraft Corp of China in the 5925-6125 MHz and 24.750-25.15 GHz bands, which are for industrial wireless applications.

In 2022, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (“CAAC”) issued an implementation plan for building airport networks, using 5G AeroMACS, which uses aviation-specific frequencies.

According to the CAAC official, 5G applications for civil aviation are based on different scenarios, using a combination of security and non-security communications. Security communications such as 5G AeroMACS are completely isolated from the 5G public network built and deployed by telecom operators. For public networks used by passengers in terminals and in-flight internet in passenger cabins, the CAAC encourages the use of 5G public networks and the participation of telecom operators. 

5. What public tenders have awarded spectrum licences? 

Not applicable. The 5G spectrum licences were not awarded via public tenders in China.

5.1 What were the criteria for awarding each of the tenders?


5.2 What are the conditions of the spectrum licence? 


5.3 What is the price and how is it calculated?


6. Is there a long-term spectrum plan or announcements for future tenders? 


7. If 5G specific rules are drafted, what do they say?

There are no 5G specific rules other than some 5G application development initiatives and policies.

In November 2019, MIIT issued the Plan for Promoting 5G-Plus Industrial Internet 512 Program, which aims to build five 5G-connected industrial public service platforms, cover 10 critical sectors, and establish at least 20 typical industrial application contexts. 

In March 2020, the MIIT issued the Circular on Accelerating 5G Development. This circular launches 18 measures in five aspects, including accelerating the construction and deployment of 5G networks. 

In July 2021, the MIIT and central departments issued the 5G Application “Sailing” Action Plan (2021-2023)

In December 2022, the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council published the Outline of the Strategic Plan for Expanding Domestic Demand (2022-2035), which states that during 2022-2035, 5G development should focus on (i) upgrading traditional offline businesses by developing and supporting applications and technologies such as self-driving and unmanned delivery; and (ii) deep integration of 5G technologies into industries such as transportation and logistics, energy, ecological and environmental protection, water conservation, emergency response and public services. In particular, the country will support the use of 5G technology to transform and upgrade cable TV networks, and develop the internet of vehicles. 

8. What focused 5G network or spectrum sharing regulation exists?

The main issue is that commercialisation and commercial application of 5G needs to be faster across certain industries. 

We have not found public information on decisions regarding non-compliance with 5G concessions’ obligations.

9. Are 5G network sharing or spectrum sharing agreements in place? 

The MIIT published the Notice on Matters Relating to the Strengthening of Radio Frequency Sharing Management for 5G Public Mobile Communication Systems on 7 December 2021 (“Notice”), to encourage and promote 5G system radio frequency sharing by the licensed telecom operators. This can be done by sharing 5G base station frequencies, or by sharing 5G user terminal frequency.  For the latter, enterprises do not need to apply for licence changes, but must submit joint sharing specifications to the relevant authority. For base station frequency sharing, the notice further regulates how enterprises can apply for any changes to radio frequency use licences, base station radio licences and other matters.

10. What are or will be the rules for granting competitors access to new 5G networks once they are deployed?


For instance, on 26 January 2021, China Mobile and China Broadnet entered into the “5G Network Co-Building and Sharing Cooperation Agreement”, which said they would invest 1:1 to build a 700MHz wireless network.

On 9 September 2019, China Telecom and China Unicom signed the “5G Network Co-Building and Sharing Framework Cooperation Agreement”, which said they would build and share a 5G network throughout the 5G life cycle.

11. What comments have been made regarding 5G cyber-security and possible use of Chinese technology, including regulation?

No information is currently available on any mandatory requirements for granting competitors access to new 5G networks, but based on answers to questions 9 and 10, telecom operators may share their frequencies. 

12. What comments have been made regarding 5G cyber-security and possible use of Chinese technology, including regulation?

In May 2021, the National Information Security Standardisation Technical Committee (“NISSTC”) published the 5G Cybersecurity Standardisation White Paper (Version 2021). The White Paper analyses the security risks and network security standardisation needs of 5G in terminal security, IT-based network facility security, communication network security, industry application security, data security, network operation and maintenance security, etc. It proposes a framework for 5G network security standards and proposals for key development standards, with a view to providing standardised technical support for the safe application of 5G and the safe and orderly development of 5G-enabled industrial applications.

Nick Beckett
Portrait ofKelly Chen
Kelly Chen
Portrait ofYili Liao
Yili Liao