China Unicom, the country’s third-largest wireless network operator, expects to complete technical research and launch early applications for 6G technology by 2025, boosting hopes of rolling out the next-generation mobile technology by the dawn of the next decade.

Liu Liehong, China Unicom chairman and chief executive, revealed the timeline on the sidelines of the China Development Forum on March 25 and added the commercial launch of 6G in China is expected to start from 2030.

Jin Zhuanglong, Minister of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in his speech at the same event that China was leading the pace of 6G research and development worldwide. He said the country is already ahead in rolling out 5G mobile networks and applications.

The telecommunications industry experts also reached a consensus that 6G mobile services in the country will start to roll out by early 2030 at the Global 6G Conference held from March 22 to 24 in Nanjing of eastern China’s Jiangsu Province, said SCMP.

The country’s three telecoms network operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – have all been reported to be involved in early 6G research and development, as they also expedited the roll out of 5G infrastructure and services across the country. China has already built the world’s largest 5G mobile network, with more than 2.31 million 5G base stations deployed at the end of last year, according to MIIT data.

This year will mark the beginning of a long journey for 6G, as new studies are initiated by more countries and organizations around the world, according to a report last month by the non-profit telecoms industry body the GSM Association.

The World Radiocommunication Conference in November is expected to set the spectrum foundations for 6G. The International Telecommunications Union, a specialized agency of the United Nations, is also expected to finalize this summer the draft recommendation for global mobile communications in 2030 and beyond, SCMP quoted the GSMA report.