Technology Apr 21

Tech focus sharpened as coronavirus shows fragility of industry

Epidemic’s impact highlights need for new ways of working, with huge investment planned for 5G network

by Nadeem Xu
Tech focus sharpened as  coronavirus reveals fragility of industry
A worker transfers products in a 5G plant of Hande Manufacturing China Co Ltd. in Xinyu city, east China's Jiangxi province. Photo: Zhao Chunliang / Imaginechina via AFP

(ATF) China is accelerating the development of its digital economy after the battering dealt to its traditional industries by the coronavirus underlined the need invest in technology.

Trillions of yuan are being funnelled into schemes aimed at building high-speed networking infrastructure and also to foster new innovation from startups.

In a meeting held on Monday, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) refined the definition of “new infrastructure” as it laid out plans to cover the country in a lattice of 5G fibre.

China will invest in information, integration and innovation infrastructure projects and promote technologies related to 5G, Internet of Things, satellite internet, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain, data centres and smart computing centres, the NDRC said.

The broad-brush plan will see investment into the sector boosted this year, the commission said.

Last Friday, the Politburo of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee called for strengthening investment in traditional and new infrastructure. Total infrastructure investment in would reach between 22 trillion ($3.11trn) and 26trn yuan this year, analysts estimated.

China will continue to support scientific research related to these technologies, which will be applied in the country’s energy, transport and industrial sectors, the NDRC added.

In another move aimed at creating new opportunities in the tech space, the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lingang District Special Area Administration is to speed up the development of 5G networks in in the region over the next five years.

A development plan released by the Shanghai government on Monday said the administration will set up more than 3,900 5G base stations in Lingang by 2025. 

In the first stage, between 2020 and 2022, the proposed 5G network will cover major urban areas, industrial parks and university campuses in the district, while the number of cloud computing data centre racks and Internet of Things terminal connections will reach 50,000 and 40,000, respectively.

In the second stage, between 2023 and 2025, the 5G network will cover all areas in the district while and the number of cloud computing data centre racks and Internet of Things terminal connections will increase to 90,000 and 100,000, respectively.