Xinjiang 5G networks expands for new possibilities

The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has installed more than 10,000 5G base stations to date, building a network that covers the main urban areas of prefecture-level cities, local authorities said recently.

The region plans to invest 1.7 billion yuan ($261.6 million) this year to accelerate the construction and development of its 5G infrastructure and facilities. By the end of this year, all of Xinjiang's counties and major scenic spots are also expected to be covered by the network, said Ali Yusan, an official from the region's communications department.

Regional capital Urumqi was one of the country's first cities to adopt 5G technology in October 2019.

More than 4.08 million households across the region had 5G service by July, Ali Yusan said, adding that favorable policies have helped promote the construction and application of 5G networks in Xinjiang.

In January, the regional government released a set of regulations formulated to ensure that the network is protected under the law in the same way as water, electricity, gas, heat and other public utilities. Any attempt to hinder or jeopardize the construction and maintenance of 5G networks or to endanger its security is prohibited.

Xinjiang has piloted 5G technology in fields from mining and healthcare, to agriculture and the power industry.

For instance, Xinjiang Medical University's First Affiliated Hospital in Urumqi uses the technology to improve pre-hospital care, operate medical robots and perform remote ultrasound scans.

"5G technology can transmit high-definition, real-time video calls between doctors and patients, which helps high-quality medical resources reach a larger group of people in need," Ali Yusan said.

In addition, 5G-assisted unmanned vehicles, which can load and unload automatically as well as plan routes and avoid obstacles, are used to make mining safer and more efficient, and 5G network coverage is the foundation for intelligent mining sites.

Given complicated underground working conditions, the wide use of 5G-enabled unmanned vehicles will help prevent accidents and improve work efficiency, said Gao Jinlong, deputy director of a mine in Changji Hui autonomous prefecture, which has been using 5G-enabled unmanned trucks to transport coal.