To embrace commercialization of 5G-A

By Zhao Dong (People's Daily) 14:21, April 12, 2024

Artificial intelligence-enabled tea pickers pick tea in a tea garden in Xihu district, Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province, March 27, 2024. (Photo by Long Wei/People's Daily)

Since 5G was commercialized in 2019, the number of 5G users around the world has exceeded 1.5 billion, making it an important driving force for high-quality economic and social development.

With the continuous iteration of telecommunications technology and emergence of new terminals and business models, 5G-Advanced, also known as 5G-A or 5.5G, has emerged. Combined with new technologies such as Integrated Sensing and Communication (ISAC), passive IoT, and intrinsic intelligence, 5G-A can enhance network performance by 10 times and meet the demands of more complex and diverse application scenarios.

Currently, many countries and regions around the world are rapidly embracing 5G-A to unleash its development potential.

For the production side, 5G-A features significantly enhanced connectivity and ubiquitous connection. It creates new possibilities for industries such as intelligent transportation and smart manufacturing.

For example, a factory in east China's Shandong province has achieved automated inspection, rapid fault isolation and power restoration, thanks to the application of 5G-A-enabled distributors and circuit breakers, as well as drones and robots. The inspection efficiency has increased by 24 times, and the average annual power outage duration has been reduced from 5.4 hours to 25 minutes.

So far, 5G-A has seeped into core production sectors. For instance, it has been employed on an automated car roof production line of a factory, ensuring faster and more stable movements of robotic arms with its powerful network performance that enables ultra-low latency and super stable wireless connections.

In a factory of Chinese home appliance manufacturer Midea in Jingzhou, central China's Hubei province, 5G-A is employed throughout the entire production process, significantly improving the production efficiency. Every seven seconds, there is a washing machine rolling off the production line.

For the consumption side, 5G-A can bring consumers better experiences in immersive services and home broadband services, and provide support for smart homes, smart tourism, and more. The upgrade in network bandwidth offers technical support for users to watch 4K and 8K high-definition videos, and promotes the large-scale application of immersive services such as naked-eye 3D and extended reality, thus allowing consumers to enjoy a brand-new mobile internet experience. For instance, during the 19th Asian Games last year, a mini app was launched to offer immersive 3D game-watching experience.

Global telecommunications operators and equipment manufacturers are actively laying groundwork and pursuing innovation in the 5G-A domain. During the recent 2024 Mobile World Congress, multiple global mobile communications companies and operators, including Qualcomm, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE, released 5G-A-related technologies, products, and service solutions. Nearly 60 companies jointly launched an initiative "Embracing Year One of 5G-A Commercialization."

Photo shows a naked-eye 3D display at the Wangfujing pedestrian street in Beijing, March 14, 2024. (Photo by Chen Xiaogen/People's Daily Online)

So far, over 30 operators in countries including Finland, Malaysia, Brazil, and Turkey have completed technological verification of 5G-A, and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have started preparing for 5G-A commercialization.

China is accelerating the commercial deployment of 5G-A. China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by mobile subscribers, announced that it will deploy 5G-A commercial networks in over 300 cities this year. It has already released a list of the first 100 cities.

China Unicom, another Chinese telecommunications company, has developed a 5G-A-based ultra-high-definition shallow compression encoding and real-time production system, setting a global record for the highest uplink bit rate.

In many Chinese provinces and municipalities, China Telecom has built over 100 stations for three-component carrier aggregation (3CC). It is also exploring the application of 5G-A in multiple industries such as steel making, mining, healthcare.

Huawei, as a global leading equipment manufacturer, released the world's first full-series solutions for 5G-A in October 2023, supporting the commercial development of 5G-A with three innovative technologies: Native 10 Gbps, Native Green, and Native Intelligence.

5G-A represents a critical phase in the evolution from 5G to 6G, serving as a bridge between the two generations. Last June, the International Telecommunication Union approved the new Recommendation on the “IMT-2030 Framework” (IMT stands for International Mobile Telecommunications, aka 6G), outlining the vision and consensus for 6G. Around 70 percent of the key technologies involved overlap with the current 5G-A standards under research. Therefore, the development of 5G-A is also a precursor to cultivating the industrial elements for 6G, laying the groundwork for its eventual deployment. This year, the world is expected to achieve large-scale commercial application of 5G-A, which will usher in a more intelligent and convenient era.

(The article is compiled by People's Daily journalist Yan Huan based on an interview with Zhao Dong, vice president of Huawei Wireless Solution.)

(Web editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)


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