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'China boost' drives 5G usage

By MA SI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-07-28 09:24
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Consumers interact with a 5G-supported smart sales robot in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province. [Photo by Zhang Tao/For China Daily]

Consumers, businesses, govt officials in nation more aware of the high-end tech

Buoyed by higher-than-expected demand in China, global 5G subscriptions are set to reach 190 million by the end of this year, a new industry report said.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the rollout of 5G networks and slowed down 5G subscription growth in some markets, the fallouts were outweighed by other markets including China where 5G deployment is accelerating, according to the mobility report from Swedish telecom equipment giant Ericsson.

Nearly 89 percent of Chinese consumers who participated in the survey believe that 5G will play a larger role in the future, while 59 percent were willing to invest in 5G-related products and services, the report said.

Compared to the global average, Chinese consumers are more enthusiastic about new technologies. For instance, 79 percent of Chinese consumers said they are eager to embrace autonomous services, such as unmanned vending machines, automatic delivery vehicles and autonomous driving, compared with the global average of 55 percent.

With more time spent online, 80 percent of virtual reality users in China believe that the virtual economy is likely to see bigger potential in the future. The proportion is also higher than the global average of 71 percent, said the report which tracked responses from more than 11,000 consumers around the world.

Ericsson China President Zhao Juntao said Chinese consumers, businesses and government officials are more aware of 5G technologies compared with their counterparts in other countries. They also showed deeper commitment to the superfast wireless technology.

As an important means to revive economic growth, 5G has also been given high priority in China after the COVID-19 outbreak was brought under better control in the nation, Zhao said.

According to the report, as of June, there have been more than 75 5G commercial launches across the world. Initially, 5G networks have mainly been deployed in larger cities, with the most extensive coverage build-out in countries including the United States, China, South Korea and Switzerland.

Chinese telecom carriers are scheduled to start building standalone 5G networks in large scale this year after 3GPP, a global organization supervising the international standards on 5G technologies, finally ratified R16, or released 16 5G standards, earlier this month.

Zhao said: "The finalization of R16 is a milestone for the global telecom industry. It indicates that some technological obstacles in standalone 5G networks have been resolved, which will further accelerate the 5G deployment process."

There are two 5Gs, and that is by design. The architecture which purges the network of all radio and communications components and methods from the past while maintaining compatibility with older devices is called stand-alone 5G networks.

The other is non-stand-alone 5G networks which relies on existing 4G infrastructure to operate some functions.

Tang Hai, deputy head of the research institute at Chinese smartphone vendor Oppo, said R16 strengthens 5G's ability to serve industrial applications and improve its efficiency. Its improvements are chiefly mirrored in the industrial internet, connected cars and other industrial use scenarios.

The potential of 5G in the industrial internet dovetails with China's push to accelerate the integrated development of next-generation information technology and manufacturing to foster high-quality development.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, as manufacturers address modernization, automation and digitalization, private 5G networks, or dedicated 5G networks, offer a way to support multiple use cases, retain control of network resource allocation and ensure that critical data remain on-site.

To further promote industrial application of 5G, experts and company executives called for more efforts to build a better 5G ecosystem.

Wang Zhiqin, deputy head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, said China has a rich telecom ecosystem and vibrant industrial chain, with many pilot projects for industrial applications.

Zhao from Ericsson also highlighted the importance of coordinated efforts and simultaneous development of network construction, chips, telecom equipment, smartphones and industrial applications to fuel the deployment of 5G.

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