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The advancement of 5G technology from its beginning to its current stage has been remarkable, and the development is still progressing towards 5.5G, bringing new opportunities and potential improvements.

China Mobile has been acknowledged as a global leader in telecommunications due to its record-breaking progress in 5G technology, with the world's largest commercial 5G network. This has driven market expansion and revolutionized industries, paving the way for a new era of connectivity and innovation.

At the 5G Beyond Growth Summit at MWC 2024, China Mobile presents their 5G practice cases and successful business models to facilitate collaboration and awareness.

Reshaping the Intelligent Era

Having built the world's largest 5G network, China Mobile boasts more than 1.94 million 5G sites, which is equivalent to more than 30% of the 5G sites around the world. The broad reach of China Mobile’s network is evident in the country, with more than 94% of the population having access to 5G. The widespread adoption of the 5G network has resulted in a monthly data traffic per user (DoU) of 25Gb; and over 60% of the network traffic are utilizing 5G.

According to Li Qiang, General Manager of China Mobile Planning and Construction Department, the company’s dedication to digital transformation goes beyond offering extensive connectivity. The company has effectively incorporated 5G technology into more than 33,000 commercial use cases, including RedCap, Core network, 5G new calling, 5G Internet of Vehicles (IoV), 5G Internet of Things (IoT), cloud phone services, OTT video service, naked-eye 3D, and 5G live ecommerce.

Furthermore, China Mobile has been consistent in innovating and implementing state-of-the-art solutions to uphold its technological leadership. This year, 5.5G will be deployed for commercial use for the first time. The company plans to integrate cloud core AI to introduce new technologies, services, models, and experiences.

In order to facilitate innovation, the company plans to proceed with the large-scale deployment of multi-carrier aggregation. This advanced technology enhances the user experience by effectively handling the aggregation process, leading to improved network performance and scalability in the future.

The nationwide deployment of 2CC and the smaller scale deployment of 3CC in multi-carrier aggregation demonstrates the network's ability to attain download speeds of 2Gbps at 2.6GHz and 30MHz at 700MHz on the 5G network. Meanwhile, the 5.5G technology is expected to achieve download speeds beyond 4Gbps, demonstrating China Mobile's dedication to advancing technological capabilities.

Another example of China Mobile’s excellence is the deployment of RedCap in more than 50 cities in the country, symbolizing the company’s commitment to innovation. The company has also identified five key cities, namely Hangzhou, Ningbo, Shenzhen, Suzhou, and Ningde to demonstrate the potential of RedCap technology. Apart from this, the industry white paper for the RedCap technology has been released and five scenario-based solutions has been launched.

China Mobile is also operating the world's largest centralized, all-cloud, and fully integrated 5G Standalone (5G SA) core network. The network's advanced features have raised it to new levels, providing unparalleled connections and setting the stage for future progress in the industry.

The company’s core network features a fully integrated 4G/NB-IoT/5G system with more than 500 million cloud users and 177,000 servers. It has reached a level-8 disaster recovery (DR) using containers, microservices, and an 8+x cloud-based structure, ensuring the development of a highly stable, agile and smart cloud infrastructure.

China Mobile has extended its innovations beyond land-based networks to include connectivity throughout space. In terms of space-to-ground integration, the company has launched the China Mobile 01 satellite— the world’s first test satellite to support this technology.

The company has also launched the world’s first 6G architecture verification satellite, which complements the land-based facilities, providing an integrated effect that could potentially transform the future of integrating space and ground operations.

Integrating Commercial 5.5G with AI and Cloud

Following China Mobile’s undeniable achievement in the deployment of 5G, the company is dedicated to taking the lead in the development and commercialization of the 5.5G network. This year, the company will transition its operational strategy from resource sales to refined operations to further increase average revenue per user (ARPU) by innovating products for different user categories, such as youth, rural users, elderly, and vertical users.

The advancement of this technological architecture is expected to accelerate the implementation of 5.5G, resulting in compatibility with cloud computing and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as breakthroughs in overall experience, connections, models and services. This strategic decision is poised to enhance intelligence capabilities, facilitating the implementation of widespread 5.5G deployment this year.

China Mobile’s launch of the first commercial 5.5G within the year will be considered Wave 1.  This will enable the extensive commercial adoption of 3CC and RedCap, as well as a commercial trial of ISAC and intelligent and passive IoT. Developing business models and enhancing infrastructure will set the foundation for the upcoming phase.

During Wave 2, which is planned for 2025, ISAC is expected to be more commercialized. There will also be significant improvements in intelligence, passive IoT, and XR multimedia. The promotion of 5.5G applications is expected to facilitate its widespread adoption and integration across different industries.

By 2026, Wave 3 (or full commercialization of 5.5G) is expected, along with explorations into satellite-ground integration, decarbonization, and the expansion of 5.5G ecosystems.

Li Qiang outlined China Mobile’s vision to develop novel experiences and connections that could provide various opportunities. Enhanced bandwidth, increased awareness, and layered operations will revolutionize user experiences, as 5.5G downlink speeds transcend 4Gbps and uplink speeds exceed 500 Mbps.

A multi-metric monetization approach encompassing rate-differentiated services, dedicated livestreaming services, Al+5G new calling, glasses-free 3D, and cloud phone, amongst other offerings, will ensure new experiences, while a network-cloud-intelligence convergence will support new connections. Finally, accelerating 5.5G commercialization and the use of AI-powered applications will drive the valuable growth of the ecosystem.

Tailored end-to-end intelligent and distinctive experiences will be customized based on user and service tiers, utilizing wireless network intelligence capacity and the 5G Core User Plane Function (UPF) and the Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF). This ensures an exceptional experience with cloud-based phones, glasses-free 3D technology, and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR).

New connections, including those related to the Internet of Things (IoT) in industries, will also be developed in the coming months. The company aims to establish a digital framework capable of accommodating 100 billion IoT connections. This includes initiatives such as implementing RedCap waste sorting in Shenzhen and passive IoT logistics inventory counting at Haier in Qingdao. Embracing RedCap technology not only delivers cost savings but also outperforms 4G, enhancing efficiency in logistics inventory management.

The advancement of Industry Sensing and Automation Control (ISAC) technology transcends mere connectivity. Enhanced communication and sensing capabilities contribute to heightened efficiency in monitoring pathways, facilitate small-scale business applications for building an intelligent society, and foster overall industrial expansion. This vision extends to the development of the low-altitude economy in Shenzhen and initiatives like the Smart Yangtze River activities in Hubei.

Furthermore, the IoV sector is projected to extend its operations from localized areas to widespread adoption across entire cities. This expansion will enable intelligent driving through the utilization of high-bandwidth and low-latency networks, consequently facilitating faster uploads of AI training data.

Driving Business Success

China Mobile aims to integrate its technological expertise using creative commercial strategies and services to ensure success for end-users. Collaborations between carriers and OTT providers are expected to achieve shared success through enhancing user experiences, boosting network traffic, and improving user retention.

The emphasis on market segmentation for network capability assurance is intended to boost ARPU, DoU and customer acquisition by offering popular and rural packages. Popular packages prioritize enhancing network uplink capabilities and promoting Frequency Allocation Standalone solutions, while rural packages will provide 5G coverage for more than 490 million residents, focusing on extensive coverage in rural areas and flexible deployment in critical situations.

China Mobile is constantly developing new ways to monetize the user experience to provide customers with innovative services. The company plans to launch improved 5G new calling, cloud phone services, and glasses-free 3D. These innovations are poised to boost traffic and offer users a novel internet experience.

China Mobile has pioneered various digital transformations in the recent year. The company’s dedication extends beyond basic connectivity, seeking to revolutionize network infrastructure for improved user experience. Its commitment to innovation is not only influencing the future of the telco industry but also making a lasting impact on the global technological landscape. China Mobile will maintain its leadership position as the industry transitions to the deployment of 5.5G networks.

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