6G has already become a high ground for national strategic competition and it is only natural that [China] should attach importance to 6G research.


Wu Hequan, Chinese Academy of Engineering Academician, April 2022

A Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)-supervised media outlet, Communications World, published an article on April 6, 2022 highlighting the scientific/resource disagreements that still exist between experts over the relative pace of China’s 5G and 6G programs. This is mostly a long-running complaint that China has overinvested in physical 5G architecture and underinvested in 5G applications, a public critique of the central government’s current “in-advance” policy. Also, China should avoid jumping into 6G before development of 5G has solidified.

Not surprisingly, the MIIT-supervised article rejected this argument and instead sided with the central position that the “next 3-5 years is the strategic window for breakthroughs in key 6G technologies.” The article added that “China must maintain developmental momentum on 5G while it paves the way for 6G development so as not to be left behind in the global development of mobile communications.”

The article also notes that China began research on 6G as early as 2018 and formed the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group anticipating that 6G would be commercialized around 2030. This was the basis for a two-stage plan that seeks commercial use of 6G by 2030.

The first phase of the plan (2018-2025), underway now, launched research on the need for a 6G vision, research on and verification of potential key 6G technologies, and design and verification of a 6G system concept.

The second phase of the plan (2026-2030) will formulate 6G standards, launch product development and industry promotion, and cultivate commercial use of 6G and the development of 6G applications.

Note: 6G and 5G are both National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) designated New Type Infrastructure (NTI) sub-categories.