China’s industrial internet sector is speeding up, and 5G has become an important driver for its rapid development, according to a top industry regulator on Monday.

“5G and industrial internet are having a multiplier effect on industrial development, as leading companies continue to drive the integration and innovation of the two technologies,” said Liu Liehong, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The industrial internet, also known as the industrial internet of things, is a key sector in the country’s new infrastructure construction. It refers to the broader adoption of advanced technologies such as next-generation wireless networks, big data, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

“The industrial internet has entered the fast lane with increasing market scale, while the country’s 5G commercialization leads the world with more than 690,000 base stations,” Liu said.

Liu made the remarks at a news conference on Monday, where the ministry and Hubei government announced they will join hands to hold the 2020 China 5G+Industrial Internet Conference in the provincial capital of Wuhan from Nov 19 to 21.

“As Hubei is in the critical period of recovery after the COVID-19 outbreak, the conference will help Hubei further consolidate and enlarge its advantages, and provide strong support for the development and expansion of the digital economy, as well as the promotion of high-quality economic development,” said Cao Guangjing, vice-governor of Hubei.

Cao said the conference will be held both online and offline. The online conference will leverage new technologies such as 5G, virtual reality and augmented reality to create a 360-degree experience.

Han Xia, director of the telecom department at MIIT, pointed out basic telecommunications companies have explored a 5G network that can be adapted to the industrial internet.

“More than 800 ‘5G + Industrial Internet’ projects have been built, with an investment of more than 3.4 billion yuan. A string of sectors including aviation, machinery, automobiles, steel, mining, ports and energy have seen applications,” she said.

Recent data showed China has already nurtured over 70 industrial internet platforms into regional influence, with related applications covering over 30 key industries across the country. More than 350,000 industrial enterprises are connected to cloud platforms.

China has called for new infrastructure development, including 5G, artificial intelligence and the industrial internet to offset the economic impact of the pandemic and boost sustainable growth.

According to the GSMA, China is poised to lead the global industrial IoT market. There will be 13.8 billion such connections globally by 2025, and China will account for approximately 4.1 billion, a third of the global market.

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