Stepping in to a new world with 5G#China Newsweek#-Sino-US

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Stepping in to a new world with 5G

A video promotes the 5G mobile wireless standard at the Qualcomm booth during the 2017 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada January 6, 2017. Photo: Reuters

A recent market rumor on Chinese two tech giants having disputes in the 5G standards has aroused public attention again toward the new technology and the anticipated future life with the faster network.

Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group has issued an internal letter to rebut the rumor that it did not back Huawei in setting the 5G standards in 2016, and said that it voted for Huawei's proposals for 5G standards in the final round of voting.

For common people, they might expect to have a new 5G mobile phone and possibly enjoy the high-definition movie while downloading it just within seconds. Further, they may find the technology in intelligent cars, drones and virtual reality.

But for the telecom industry, companies were in anxiety of the standards setting, the large-scale experiment and when the commercialization of the fifth generation mobile communications technology will start.

In the 19th issue of 2018, China Newsweek magazine ran a cover story on companies’ struggles in setting 5G standards, applications and experimental practice, and the problems the telecom industry have to face in 5G services.

Below is an excerpt of the article.

Now, people are enjoying the great benefits from the 4G technology, such as the live broadcast, video phones, mobile payment, online car hailing and mobile games, which all rely on the fast network speed.

Because of the happy, convenient and wonderful life brought by the 4G network, people have changed their habits in using mobile phones, and they are more anticipated in looking forward to the next generation mobile communications.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the international 5G standards setting body, is working on the first international version of 5G specifications, Release 15, and it will be released in June.

The new generation telecom technology has been regarded as an important impetus for the high-quality development and economic restructure in China while the country has played an important part in the standards setting.

When the 5G standards have been set, companies will work on chips, and the terminals will come out soon. Telecom operators will also carry out their work on building the network and developing new services.

China’s three telecom operators -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, have issued agendas: large-scale experiment this year, pre-operation next year and the commercialization of 5G in 2020.

However, large investment will be needed for developing new 5G products, services, constructing towers and other spending, and companies have face a problem of how to make money from 5G.

Standards setting

Liu Guangyi, chief technology officer of wireless department in China Mobile Research Institute, was still worrying about if the 3GPP will make out the Release 15 standards on time.

The members of the 3GPP include, network operators, terminal manufacturers, chipmakers, infrastructure manufacturers, scholars, research institutions and government agencies. They have different solutions and technological proposals.

Liu, who took part in the 3GPP meetings, said the competition was very fierce in making the 5G specifications, and many companies expected their proposals to be adopted and to get a bigger say in the 5G development.

Zhang Ping, director of the State Key Laboratory of Networking and Switching Technology in Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said it was normal of the fierce competition since interests were behind each proposal.

Many proposals were not irreplaceable, and when companies have many choices, it depends on if the standard is complete and systematic in the whole standard system, said Zhang, a member of the IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group.

Patrick Moorhead, chief analyst of research company Moor Insights & Strategy, said in an article that a quality proposal is more important and its importance lies in the extent it can promote the development of the mobile ecosystem.

Chinese companies – Huawei and ZTE, joined in the competition, and Huawei’s polar coding proposal won support in Nov 2016 to be part of the 5G standards. The recent online rumor on Lenovo not backing Huawei was related to this vote.

The low density parity check code (LDPC) promoted by the US was also included into the 5G standards.

China has a narrow leading position in the 5G development, according to a report from the CTIA in April, and the US, along with China, South Korea and Japan, was in the first tier of countries in preparing deployment of 5G.

Zhang who took part in the meetings for 3G standards in the past said that it has reflected the change of China’s role in making the communications standards.

Besides competition, Liu Guangyi said that companies have the cooperation in the 5G, because they have a common target to make efforts to create a good industrial environment, making the 5G cake big, and then they could share more.


The International Telecommunication Union has used eight key indicators to define the 5G technology, such as the speed to reach peak 20Gbps and time delay to limit at 1 millisecond.

Wang Zhiqin, an expert with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said 5G is entering a key stage of standards setting and the standards set in June will allow the core network to support enhanced broadband and low time delay.

When the Release 15 was made out, participants would develop products and commercial use will be ready, Wang said, except for China, other countries have set their agendas for the commercialization of 5G.

She said the US, Japan and South Korea will carry out trial network in 2018 and deploy 5G equipment in 2019, and the Europe will carry out 5G technology experiment in 2019.

The US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on May 2 that building a next-generation 5G mobile network was a priority for President Donald Trump's administration, “We need it for defense purposes, we need it for commercial purposes."

According to a report from Qualcomm, in 2035, 5G will enable $12.3 trillion of global economic output and the global 5G value chain will generate $3.5 trillion in output and support 22 million jobs.

European Union and South Korea have their strategies in developing 5G, and China also included the development of 5G and ultra wideband technologies into its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).

The high speed 5G network will possibly quicken the production of the user generated content, since the 4G network has fostered user’s habit to watch videos and photos online but in low quality and long time.

3D films and videos used the VR and AR technology will increase a lot, and the content shared on social media network will see double growth, and therefore, the grassroots producers will have to cooperate with large companies.

Benefiting from the connection of fast 5G network, doctors could take measures to monitor and treat with patients in real time, and the mobile health industry will surely see a rapid growth.

Liu Guangyi said that Chinese government saw the leading role of the mobile communication industry to the whole society, hoping the 5G development to boost the manufacturing industry.

Make money

Facing the strident promotion of the 5G’s revolutionary prospects and application scenarios, people might have a false impression that the 5G is approaching.

However on April 17, Xu Zhijun, rotating CEO of Huawei, said that though the 5G technology is faster and more reliable, consumers might not have a concrete feeling of the difference between 4G and 5G.

He said that most consumers will not see the benefits of the new technology, and it will be difficult for telecom operators to make money.

While companies and countries are pushing ahead the 5G in the fierce international competition, but Xu’s view just represented some industry insiders’ opinion.

Liu said that it is a common issue for all suppliers to make money from 5G. But when telecom operators deployed 5G, consumers may not pay for the new business modes, he said. “Will you build new 5G stations?”

Zhang Ping said China Mobile will have to change its role and profit-making modes in the 5G era. In the past, China Mobile made money from consumers, but in the future, the profits could be from people and things, he said.

Mobile internet in the 4G era has subverted a lot of value-added services, and telecom operators have become an information channel, and the 5G will be another test for operators.

Foreign operators will face worse conditions comparing with Chinese operators, and they have more worries on the returns, Liu said. For example, because of a small population, Europe saw a balance of investment and income in the 4G era, but the investment of 5G will be higher than 4G.

China has a large population and the market large enough to support operators to develop, the same situations like Japan and South Korea that are willing to develop 5G, Liu said.

Companies are also exploring new business modes in the 5G market, such as intelligent vehicles, wearable devices and drones. Vertical industries, as a big source, might not huge demands in a short period.

Xu Zhijun said that though it was still vague of the future, all participants have not slowed down their steps in the 5G development. “If you are not good at 5G, clients might not buy your 4G products even.”

He said that operators also face the same situation that when one operator launched 5G network, other companies have to follow, even though it was only because of brand promotion and marketing measures.

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