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Leading companies at the forefront of cutting-edge 5G research

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2015-10-15 07:39

In the global race to develop 5G, or fifth-generation mobile communication technology, China's leading tech companies and telecom carriers are working hard at gaining an edge over international competitors.

According to a timetable mapped out by the International Telecommunication Union, 5G is expected to be first put into commercial use by 2020.

This new generation of networks is expected to have peak data transfer speed of 20 gigabits per second, almost 100 times faster than current 4G networks.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world's largest telecom equipments manufacturer, is making particularly strong progress.

Earlier this month, Huawei and Japanese wireless operator NTT DoCoMo teamed up to run the world's first large-scale demonstration of how 5G's speed might work out in the field, using a data-transfer speed of up to 3.6 Gbps simultaneously to a large number of users - considered a significant industry breakthrough.

Previously, similar experiments by global industry leaders Nokia Corp and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd had been conducted only in a laboratory setting, and none had been able to offer such large-scale, multiple-user capability.

Gene Cao, a senior analyst at market research firm Forrester Research Inc, said: "This test shows Huawei is on the right path.

"Though 3.6 Gbps is slower than the 20 Gbps peak speed stated by the International Telecommunication Union, it is considerably faster than the basic 1 Gbps criteria, set for public consumption."

The trial was only part of Huawei's broader 5G-related program.

The Shenzhen-based company first promised in 2013 to invest $600 million over the next five years into 5G.

Last year, it became a member of the 5G Infrastructure Association, a European 5G research industry club, and since then it has been involved in various 5G research, often testing in collaboration with partners, to assess both technical and commercial viability of 5G.

ZTE Corp, the Chinese telecom equipment maker, is also an active participant in the race toward 5G.

It has launched a TDD (Time Division Duplex) plus solution, a so-called pre-5G technology, to meet the growing demand for services including cloud computing and streaming ultra-high-definition videos, only currently available with super fast Internet speed.

Also known as 4.5G technology, pre-5G aims to improve data transfer speeds using existing telecommunication infrastructure, before 5G networks become standard.

In July, ZTE showcased a commercial base station equipped with Massive MIMO - a key pre-5G technology that helps improve the coverage of Wi-Fi networks by boosting the efficiency of current telecom equipment.

The company is also focusing on international cooperation, becoming a partner of the 5G Innovation Lab, a project set up by German carrier Deutsche Telekom AG. The two sides are working closely to research international 5G standards.

China Mobile Communications Corp, the nation's largest telecom carrier, is also promoting research into the cutting-edge technology.

It has mapped out a five-year plan on how to handle potential 5G demand, including how to best design 5G base station networks.

The document has already been partly adopted by the International Telecommunication Union as the basis for research into international 5G standards.

Last month the European Union signed a milestone agreement with China to strengthen cooperation on 5G networks, promising reciprocity and openness in terms of access to 5G research funding, market access, as well as membership of Chinese and EU 5G associations.


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