Former China Mobile Chairman: Eight Things to Know About 5G
Editor’s note: Fifth-generation mobile network technology — known commonly as “5G” — was a hot topic at February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Wang Jianzhou is the former chairman of the world's biggest wireless carrier, China Mobile Ltd., and chairman of the China Association for Public Companies, a national body supervised by the country’s securities regulator. He has attended the event several times in recent years. Below is an edited excerpt of his thoughts on the development and innovation of these super-speedy next generation networks.
1. 5G is coming
Unlike the last few years, the 5G products on display in Barcelona this year are all ready for the mass market. There were live demonstrations. Currently, only five companies — Huawei, Ericsson, ZTE, Nokia and Samsung — are able to fully provide products on 5G networks.
2. Mobile communications are entering the new ‘gigabits’ era
With improved bandwidth and utilization frequency rates, the goal of 5G’s downlink peak rate reaching 20 times the rate of 4G has become a reality. This marks a big leap toward the speed edge of Shannon's theorem for telecom technologies.
Nothing can stop the advance of technology. When the first highway was built, people were perplexed, wondering what the point was of such a wide road. Yet as people enjoyed the benefits after it was put in use, they can no longer imagine going back to the old days when there were no highways. A 5G network is a mega-highway for data.
3. Telecom operators are enthusiastic but rational
In previous years, while manufacturers were keen to showcase 5G technologies, telecom operators were watching. Now, the question for operators is not whether they should build 5G networks but how.
Unlike the exceedingly expensive competition for 3G licenses, cost-sensitive operators are this time relatively calm in bidding for 5G frequencies with auctions now taking place in many countries. For example, Telecom Italia and Vodafone in Italy are cooperating to share 5G infrastructure, in a bid to reduce costs.
4. 5G phones and 5G networks to come out at the same time
Compatible mobile phones usually lag behind the rollout of network infrastructure. But this time around, 5G mobile models have come out at the same time as 5G networks. Chipmakers such as Qualcomm have developed 5G chips and antenna components with a high level of integration, clearing the technology hurdles to make 5G phones. Many device manufacturers have already rolled out their 5G mobile phone models.
5. 5G technology to change lives
A few years ago, 5G in Barcelona was more of a concept and something for exhibition. But this year’s event, I found many practical uses for 5G. For example, participants in some exhibitions could take turns remote-controlling a car located far away in another city. We can imagine a future where drivers can choose to remote-control a car that has to travel along dangerous roads.
6. Manufacturing sector applications come before consumer ones
It will be some time before we see large-scale consumer applications for 5G, as it may be a while before we see a comprehensive rollout of networks available to ordinary consumers.
However, 5G applications in manufacturing sectors are imminent. The concept of private 5G would see a specific industrial setting, such as a factory, construction site or industrial park, have its own closed network which would enable the setup of an independent platform to provide various reliable and low-latency 5G services. Within such a setting companies can improve their efficiency and reduce costs by using autonomous vehicles, robots, and smart control technology. Such a future is reminiscent of the old days when every firm had its own exchange telephone, which was isolated from the general network.
7. The development of applications and platforms is key
For 5G, the development of platforms and applications accounted for 95% of the network’s value, with the remaining 5% on the network itself. During this year’s Barcelona MWC I am very happy to see application developers and venture capitalists also looking for opportunities — it was more than just device manufacturers and mobile carriers.
8. Foldable phones are a game-changer for the smartphone industry
Until foldable phones emerged, the structure of the smartphones hadn’t changed much since the iPhone was released in 2007. A hybrid of a smartphone and a tablet, foldable phones will have an enormous impact and may even have great implications for how personal computers, software and applications work.
Flexible AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) displays have existed for some time. Foldable phone models appeared in Barcelona five years ago, but the commercial rollouts came only this year.
The obstacles in the way of foldable phone commercialization have had nothing to do with wireless technology itself, but with the workmanship of cover panels and the base of the bendable screens — an area of chemical industry which involves polymer materials.
I'm happy to see this obstacle has been cleared. The success tells us that a comprehensive industrial ecosystem is a prerequisite for a solid phone-making industry.
Translated by Mo Yelin, Isabelle Li and Tang Ziyi
This commentary has been edited for length and clarity.
Contact reporter Jason Tan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
May 21 19:59
May 21 17:50
May 21 17:13
May 21 17:46
May 21 15:04
May 21 14:38
May 21 14:30
May 21 11:25
May 21 09:49
May 21 04:01
May 21 04:12
May 20 18:56
May 20 18:10
May 20 16:29
May 20 16:52
- 1Opinion: Jack Ma’s ‘669’ Sex Joke Reinforces Tech’s Culture of Gender Harassment
- 2China Boosts Hydrogen Fuel Cell Investment in Green Energy Push
- 3Jack Ma Faces Backlash for Telling Employees How Often to Have Sex
- 4Huawei to Seek Remedies in Face of U.S. Ban
- 5Huawei Prepares ‘Alternative Chips’ to Cope With U.S. Ban
- 1Power To The People: Pintec Serves A Booming Consumer Class
- 2Largest hotel group in Europe accepts UnionPay
- 3UnionPay mobile QuickPass debuts in Hong Kong
- 4UnionPay International launches premium catering privilege U Dining Collection
- 5UnionPay International’s U Plan has covered over 1600 stores overseas