Chi­nese firms gain lead in the race for 5G edge

Na­tion evolv­ing from fol­lower in 3G era to ac­tive par­tic­i­pant that seeks to out­com­pete for­eign com­pa­nies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FOCUS | BUSINESS - By MA SI masi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese tele­com firms have scored a point in the global race to set stan­dards for 5G, the fifth-gen­er­a­tion mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy that will al­low con­sumers to down­load an 8-gi­ga­bit movie in sec­onds.

China Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp, the world’s largest tele­com car­rier by sub­scribers — with 845 mil­lion sub­scribers by Oc­to­ber, beat for­eign com­peti­tors in late Novem­ber to lead the 5G Sys­tem Ar­chi­tec­ture project, which will de­ter­mine the “struc­ture of 5G net­works”.

The move came shortly after polar cod­ing, a tech­nol­ogy backed by Chi­nese tele­com equip­ment maker Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd, was ap­proved as part of the global stan­dard for 5G.

“The progress high­lights Chi­nese firms’ ris­ing in­flu­ence in the global telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion arena. It is a recog­ni­tion of both their tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess as well as their brand in­flu­ence,” said Xiang Li­gang, CEO of the tele­com in­dus­try web­site cc­time.com.

China is evolv­ing from a fol­lower in the 3G era to an ac­tive par­tic­i­pant that seeks to out­com­pete for­eign firms in the 5G era, he added.

The trend dove­tails with the rise of Chi­nese tele­com firms in the in­ter­na­tional arena. Huawei emerged as the world’s lead­ing tele­com equip­ment maker, whose prod­ucts and ser­vices are ex­ported to more than 170 coun­tries and re­gions, cover­ing one-third of the global pop­u­la­tion.

The coun­try has also built the world’s largest 4G net- works within two years. As of Oc­to­ber 2016, China Mo­bile alone had 497 mil­lion 4G sub­scribers and its 4G base sta­tions ex­ceeded 1.43 mil­lion units, both the world’s largest.

Dwelling on th­ese achieve­ments, Chi­nese play­ers are now seek­ing to grow their in­flu­ence as the world is mi­grat­ing to the new 5G era, where un­like pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, there will be only one global stan­dard.

In late Novem­ber, Sun Tao of the China Mo­bile Re­search In­sti­tute be­came the sole rap­por­teur for the 5G Sys­tem Ar­chi­tec­ture project at a meet­ing held by 3rd Gen­er­a­tion Part­ner­ship Project, the in­ter­na­tional mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions stan­dard or­ga­ni­za­tion in the United States.

“The rap­por­teur means the one who takes charge of the project. Win­ning the ti­tle from a crowd of com­peti­tors proves that China Mo­bile’s think­ing on 5G sys­tem ar­chi­tec­ture de­sign has been well­re­ceived among the global com­mu­nity,” said Fu Liang, an in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst who has been fol­low­ing the tele­com in­dus­try for more than a decade.

“The ar­chi­tec­ture de­sign of the 5G sys­tem is just like the struc­ture of hous­ing. It de­ter­mines the func­tion­al­ity of the whole build­ing,” he added.

Sun said in a state­ment to China Daily that “China Mo­bile will be re­spon­si­ble for the whole project. We will de­cide its time­line, or­ga­nize dis­cus­sions on tech­ni­cal specifications and co­or­di­nate views of dif­fer­ent par­ties.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, the project will re­lease two doc­u­ments in next De­cem­ber, which will form a global stan­dard for 5G sys­tem ar­chi­tec­ture.

“The role will give us a leg up in the 5G era, lay­ing a sound foun­da­tion for our ef­forts in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and the in­ter­net of things,” Li Zheng­mao, vicepres­i­dent of China Mo­bile, said.

Huawei is also ex­pected to have an edge, after polar cod­ing was ap­proved as part of the global stan­dard for 5G at an­other meet­ing held by the 3rd Gen­er­a­tion Part­ner­ship Project in Novem­ber.

The tech­nol­ogy can help lower chip power con­sump­tion and im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity of wire­less com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Huawei said. It will bet­ter sup­port cloud com­put­ing, high-def­i­ni­tion movie stream­ing, aug­mented re­al­ity and other ser­vices that de­mand su­per­fast in­ter­net speed.

“Though polar cod­ing was de­vel­oped by a Turk­ish sci­en­tist, Huawei has played a big part in pro­mot­ing it as part of the 5G stan­dard. It has al­ready con­ducted a great deal of pi­o­neer­ing re­search and tests on it. Huawei will have the first-mover ad­van­tage,” said Xiang, CEO of the tele­com in­dus­try web­site cc­time.com.

But that does not mean the ef­forts to set a global 5G stan­dard are a zero-sum game. Hu Houkun, Huawei’s ro­tat­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive, said in an in­ter­view with Fi­nan­cial Times: “I think this is not a fight be­tween dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies, let alone dif­fer­ent coun­tries. Rather, it is a process of build­ing con­sen­sus in the mo­bile in­dus­try.”

XING YUN / FOR CHINA DAILY

A con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences a vir­tual re­al­ity game de­vice that ap­plies 5G tech­nol­ogy at a high-tech fair held in Shang­hai in May last year.

LI XIN / XIN­HUA

Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd dis­plays its lat­est achieve­ments in 5G tech­nol­ogy at the PT/ EXPO China held in Bei­jing in Septem­ber. The ex­po­si­tion showed the trends in the fields of 5G tech­nol­ogy, cloud com­put­ing, the in­ter­net of things and smart hard­ware.

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