Countdown: 5G commercialization is coming
If we need to pick any key words for this year in technology industry, there is a high possibility that 5G will one of them.
The global 5G commercialization has been in the past year and even created much value in advance in different industries. Some highlights include the first well-established 3GPP 5G standards, 5G frequency spectrum auction and distribution, mainstream operators conducting 5G tests, some countries launching 5G commercialization and industry chain getting more optimised. The whole ICT industry and the society are all watching these and expecting more.
4G changes life while 5G changes society. With its ultra-wide Gbps-level bandwidth, reliable and low-latency communication capacity and millions of connection per kilometer, 5G will facilitate and boost digitalization in all industries, which will spur a new wave of business development.
Are you ready to embrace the 5G era?
5G commercialization by 11 operators: We are so close to 5G
According to GSMA, from 2018 to 2025 data traffic is predicted to increase with a compound growth rate of 40 percent every year. By 2025, there will be more than 30 billion devices connected worldwide and generate considerable revenue for the whole industry. By 2022, the mobile industry will produce 4.6 trillion demands to the global market. It is 5G technology that drives the above exponential growth with low latency, better user experience and smoother communication. Besides, the extensive application of 5G will benefit various industries including entertainment, emergency service, public service, drone, industrial manufacturing, agriculture and more, which will dramatically improve efficiency, urge new development trends and business modes.
All signs indicate that we are so close to 5G. In respect of 5G standards, after the 5G NR SA has been approved in 3GPP TSG #80 Plenary Meeting in June 2018, and the 5G NR specifications for non-standalone (NSA) was released in Dec 2017, the first international 5G standardization has been completed. The standardization is mainly focused on eMBB. Although the release of R15 Late Drop version has been postponed, yet it will not exert negative influence on first 5G deployment.
As planned, the R16 standard will be completed by September 2019 in line with planning to fulfill all scenarios defined by ITU, e.g. eMBB, mMTC and Urllc. By that time, 5G technology with competitive features like ultra big bandwidth, low latency and massive connection capacity will be applied across industries to drive innovations and upgrading.
Looking at the global market, the phase-1 standardization for full functions symbolizes that 5G will be adapted into commercial use soon. A recent report of GSA shows that by the end of middle January in 2019, there will be 201 operators from 83 countries and regions investing in 5G mobile networks as well as 5G FWA. Many operators have already announced 524 independent demonstrations, tests and trials.
For the time being, 11 operators have launched 5G services partially including mobile and FWA services. They are AT&T (USA), Elisa (Finland and Estonia), Etisalat (UAE), Fastweb (Italy), LG Uplus (South Korea), KT (South Korea), SK Telecom (South Korea), Ooredoo (Katar), Telecom Italia (Italy), Verizon (USA) and Vodacom (Lesotho). However, in terms of coverage, device usability and customer size, 5G services provided by the above operators still need to be improved. On 1st October 2018, Verizon launched 5G Home service (FWA service) in four cities and planned to put 5G mobile network into commercial use starting from the first half year of 2019; on December 2018, AT&T announced that its 5G service (provide network access via portable hotspot device) have been rolled out in 12 cities and planned to expand it to nationwide by 2020. On 1st December 2018, the biggest three operators in South Korea have officially announced 5G commercialization. At the early stage, its 5G services will be provided by using mobile hotspot devices instead of smartphones. Meanwhile, LG Uplus aims to implement 5G networks to cover the major cities in South Korea by the end of 2019.
At the same time, China has confirmed that 5G will be commercialized by 2020 and by 2018 the license for 5G tests in middle and low frequency has been issued. During the interview with CCTV on 10th January 2019, Mr. MIAO Wei, the Minister of (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of PRC (MIIT) suggested that 5G temporary license would be issued to several cities this year and 5G network would be deployed in a large scale in tier-1 cities. Meanwhile, device industrialization and base station construction would be driven forward.
The 5G industry chain is ready
No technology implementation can be completed without the industry chain support. This is the same for 5G. 5G commercialization will involve manufacturers from different sectors, such as equipment makers, chip makers, device manufacturers, testing device manufacturers, etc., which will lead to a fierce competition.
Before the 3GPP 5G standards are approved, many equipment manufacturers have conducted R&D on 5G products. Up to now, nearly all mainstream equipment manufacturers have launched end-to-end commercial 5G systems. In 2009, Huawei started to invest in 5G research. With its accumulations of 10-year research and development, Huawei still maintains its competitive edge under external pressure. In 2018, Huawei launched a full set end-to-end solution of 5G products and solutions based on 3GPP standards, which covers client, connection and cloud to truly deliver end to end coverage from end user to network and then to cloud data centre. For networks, this solution can provide ultimately good user experience, easy-to-use sites, ultra-low power consumption, concise structure, intelligent operation and maintenance.
By the end of 2018, Huawei has won 30 5G commercialization contracts (18 in Europe, 9 in Middle East Asia and 3 in APAC). Huawei worked with three Chinese operators to build up more than 30 sites for 5G outfield experiment in 17 cities and construct 30,000 5G base stations. Huawei owned 2,570 5G patents and 3,345 5G core standard proposals (ranking first in 5G industry). In 5G pre-commercialization outfields and the third stage of IMT-2020 testing, Huawei’s 5G products and solutions made a new record with a peak speed of 14.58Gbps in the testing area and user peak rate of 5.2Gbps, which included SA and NSA networks, indoor and outdoor scenarios. In an interview with China and overseas media, Huawei’s management team mentioned that Huawei joined dozens of 5G network commercial application tests and the results suggested that Huawei 5G was more advanced and 12-18 months ahead of its competitors. If as the British Telecom said so, banning Huawei 5G equipment would cause the delay of the new mobile network launch around 9-12 months.
As a long-established telecom giant, Ericsson has advantages in wireless technology. Its 5G platform comprises of core networks, wireless networks and transmission networks, as well as OSS, BSS, network services and security products. In the 5G market, Ericsson is also very active and has signed 10 5G commercial application contracts for with leading operators including Vodafone, Softbank, Verizon and AT&T. The company also collaborates with business partners to conduct more than 40 5G network tests. Besides, Ericsson has taken part in China’s IMT-2020 5G technology R&D tests. Thanks to its 5G business expansion, Ericsson’s revenue in 2018 has achieved 210.8 billion SEK, which was the first business growth from the past 6 years.
Besides for Ericsson, Nokia is also one of the few operators that could deploy 5G network independently, not only wireless network, but also back-end transmission and bearing, and fixed mobile convergence. In early 2018, Nokia launched ReefShark chipset for 5G commercialization. It has taken part in more than 60 5G commercialization projects worldwide, among which it is worth mentioning that Nokia has signed a 5G network equipment supply contract with T-Mobile, which is more than 3.5 billion USD - the largest 5G order announced in the world. In addition, it is rumored that Canadian government would fund 40 million USD to Nokia in 5G technology R&D, which may indicate that Nokia would be the main partner for Canada’s 5G development strategy.
The development of end user device will have great impact on 5G development. Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung and other mainstream chip manufacturers have launched 5G baseband chip (or mobile test platform) as well as conducted interoperability tests. Since companies start to mass produce 5G chips, it is expected that 5G smartphone products will grow dramatically this year. For example, at CES 2019, Qualcomm announced that there will have 30 new mobile devices using its 5G chip solution to be launched by the end of 2019.
At the Huawei pre-briefing during MWC on 24th January 2019, Huawei released world's first core chip specifically designed for 5G base stations, Huawei TIANGANG , together with 5G Multi-mode Chipset Balong 5000, the 5G baseband chip that has won several “industry’s first” recognitions. Besides, Huawei released the first 5G foldable mobile phone at MWC 2019. According to the current information we can get, the Balong 5000 has advantages over its competitors in terms of performance. Balong 5000 supports 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G on a single chip. In the Sub-6GHz frequency band of 5G networks, Balong 5000 provides a peak download rate of 4.6Gbps and an mmWave peak download rate of 6.5Gbps, which is 10 times faster than 4G LTE. Balong 5000 is the first to support NR TDD and FDD full spectrum, bringing more stable mobile connection experience to end users. In addition, the Balong 5000 is also the first to support NSA and SA network architectures at the same time. It also provides an interim solution for the NSA in the early days of 5G commercialization. In addition, the Balong 5000 is the first 5G chip that supports R14 V2X in the industry.
Since the year of 2018 there have been continuous development and progress in Internet communication and connectivity. In January 2018, Huawei together with Deutsche Telekom and Intel announced the completion of the first 5G interoperability test (IoDT) by using a 3GPP R15 standard-based 5G commercial base station. Besides, in the third stage phase of IMT-2020 testing, Huawei and Intel accomplished the first cross-vendor data business collaboration under the SA network. In September 2018, Nokia Bell announced that it worked with VIAVI Solutions – a test terminal (device) supplier to conduct a peak speed test with a downlink peak speed exceeding 1.6Gbps under single-user mode. In January 2019, Ericsson partnered with Qualcomm and completed the 2.6GHz NSA NR data call, successfully bringing a new frequency band to 5G commercialization.
5G business is increasingly growing, stepping into new smart era
With the 5G era coming, many scenes from sci-fi movies will be realized. The 5G technology will provide a vital foundation for “digitalization dimension upgraded and intelligentization”. Meanwhile, nurturing new business and new business models will be of high importance in the current stage.
In November 2016, Huawei established the Wireless X Labs to strengthen business partnership and build up new industry ecosystem, bridging the gap between the unknown and opportunities. Currently, the X Labs has partnered with several hundreds of global companies. What’s more, the lab is committed to exploring into connected drones, cloud VR/AR, wireless robots and the Internet of Vehicles. In 2018, Huawei set up a Computer Graphics (CG) Cloud VR/AR Special Interest Group (SIG) to promote VR and AR commercial application in 5G eMBB scenarios.
Meanwhile, Huawei cooperated with industry-leading operators to accelerate 5G scenario deployment and 5g application. For example, Huawei and China Mobile have built the first 5G experience campus and 5G network demonstration cars, AR-assisted facial recognition security check system, robots and drones for inspection, etc. In addition, Huawei has jointly issued the “Driving Smart Power Grid with 5G Application White Paper” with China Mobile Guangdong, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) and the China Southern Power Grid, bringing a very positive impact on innovating smart grid services such as differential protection of distribution network, emergency communication, distribution network measurement and online monitoring.
At the 2018 China Mobile Global Partner Conference, Huawei together with China Mobile, China Mobile Sichuan and China Mobile Zhejiang demonstrated the typical 5G application scenarios deployed on the current network with a video. In addition, Huawei teamed up with China Mobile Guangdong to deploy 5G network in advance for HD video live broadcast.
Nokia has not only conducted innovation in network, device and chip development, but also proactively engaged in 5G technology R&D. It was previously reported that in Nokia Bell Labs, several innovation projects have been rolled out, including 5G AR based smart security and safety projects, 5G AR based smart industrial inspection solutions, VR based remote surgery, 5G network based Cloud VR games, HD VR videos, Internet of Vehicles based remote driving solutions, 5G assisted environment monitoring and 5G medical and healthcare solutions.
At the same time, the establishment of cross-industry 5G associations is also a driving force for 5G empowering development for all industries in the future. For instance, Huawei partners with well-known motor companies including Audi, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and many telecom and chip manufacturers to found 5GAA to boost the integration of 5G technology and automotive industry. Together with outstanding manufacturers like Bosch and Festo, Huawei has founded the 5G-ACIA and pushed forward the development of 5G application in industrial manufacturing to ensure that in early phase 5G technology could be applied in different industries. Besides, Huawei has also founded the 5GSA with China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia, General Electric, China Electric Power Research Institute, Volkswagen, Tencent, Digital Domain, and Fraunhofer Society to meet the demands from vertical industry in networking slicing field to define new business models.
Looking forward to 2019, the full commercialization of 5G technology is approaching and counting down. The large scale deployment is coming and the whole industry is ready to embrace it. It is predicted that advanced solutions and 5G application products would enter a new level and the exploration of new business would receive fruitful results. Although there may be conflicts, yet it would be a mainstream trend that the global industry chain would work together in the future. The new era is now coming and the most important thing is to focus on the current development.
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