BEIJING, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, its telecom infrastructure and information technology lagged far behind those in the more developed nations.
Seven decades on, China boasts the world's largest online population and a booming digital economy is reshaping the way people live as well as the country's economic landscape.
And with China's ambitions for 5G commercialization, the country's telecom industry is leading the future.
FROM FOLLOWER TO FORERUNNER
Decades of research and experiments saw China gradually catch up in wireless communication technology.
The country had always been the follower until the 4G era came, when Chinese-developed Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology become one of the major international standards for 4G.
Last year, over 98 percent of the population has been covered with 4G networks as more than 3.7 million 4G base stations have been built. Even residents of Sichuan's "cliff village," one of China's poorest areas, have access to 4G.
In June 2019, China officially approved 5G commercial services, marking the start of a smart new era as the application of the superfast wireless technology helps connect more things, services and market players.
Chinese telecom giant Huawei disclosed in June that it had invested a total of 4 billion U.S. dollars in 5G over the past 10 years, making it a leader in 5G chips, products, and networks.
GOING ONLINE: PROSPEROUS INTERNET ECONOMY
The leaps and bounds in the development of telecom infrastructure have fueled a surge in online population, attracting more Internet start-ups buzzing around the honeypot.
Chinese online users soared from 620,000 in 1997 to 854 million in June 2019, while the Internet penetration rate climbed to 61.2 percent.
Since 2014, the average download speed of mobile broadband in China has become seven times faster and the cost of mobile Internet fell by more than 90 percent, according to information from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The faster and widely-covered network has made people's daily life increasingly convenient, with services ranging from mobile payments to e-commerce transforming lifestyles in ways never seen before.
In 2018, China's digital economy reached 31.3 trillion yuan (about 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars), accounting for 34.8 percent of the country's GDP and contributing 67.9 percent of GDP growth, and 191 million jobs were created by the digital economy, accounting for 24.6 percent of overall employment, according to the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.