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Five Forces in Commercialization of 5G Push the Rise of Trillion Yuan-Level Industries

Unlike any other industry, the communications industry needs to achieve a consensus on a global scale in order to set up a network that can be interconnected globally. The consensus involves the development of standards and specifications, the planning and use of spectrum frequencies, and the full cooperation of all parties in the industrial chain. The fifth-generation mobile communication technology (that is, 5G) has become the focus of the global mobile communications industry. Countries, standards organizations, and mainstream telecommunications vendors worldwide are actively carrying out 5G standardization and tests to promote the unification of standards, plan the use of frequencies, promote the cooperation in the industrial chain, strengthen technology innovation, and promote commercial practice, in order to truly accelerate the commercialization progress of 5G and achieve a better and faster implementation of 5G.

Development of Standards and Specifications
Global mobile communications standards are basically dominated by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Verizon, a US mobile operator, announced in July 2016 that it had developed its 5G wireless standard (briefed as V5G), disrupting the standards industry that is already complex in itself. Despite this, most countries, represented by China, the countries in the European Union, Japan, and South Korea, have reached a consensus on the development of standards and will continue to formulate global 5G standards by firmly sticking to 3GPP. Now, it has been confirmed that 3GPP will determine the Non-Standalone standard by the end of 2017, complete the first version of 5G standards (Release 15) in June 2018, and develop a complete version of 5G standards that meet ITU requirements by the end of 2019. In this way, a consensus is reached on the global scope upon the 5G standards development time and commercial deployment time of 5G, and the goal of the same global 5G standards is basically achieved.
Chinese enterprises are making great contributions to the development of 5G standards. ZTE Corporation, for example, has submitted a total of 3,500 international proposals on 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR), won two key seats as the editors for key 5G specifications, and led and approved the initiation of the NOMA research project and the network slicing ATSS research project. ZTE Corporation also provides full support for the research on globally unified 5G technical standards under the ITU and 3GPP frameworks to support the commercialization of 5G in 2020.

Spectrum Frequency Planning and Use
Though the development of 5G standards is not completed, verification tests have been carried out on a global scope, and some countries have even released the 5G spectrum plan. However, same as the standards, spectra must be globally unified in order to have the scale effect and achieve global roaming.
Low bands provide good wireless transmission and wide coverage, but limited bandwidth. High bands provide a small coverage but a lot of bandwidth. Both low band resources and high band resources are required in the commercial use of 5G. Different bands have different characteristics, and no single band can meet all 5G requirements. It is foreseeable that high and low bands will co-exist in future 5G networks, so the requirement of supporting multi bands is imposed upon telecommunications equipment vendor. On the MWC 2017 held in Barcelona at the beginning of 2017, ZTE Corporation first released 5G high/low-band series products that are oriented towards pre-commercial use, launched the smallest and lightest low-frequency AAU in the industry, and demonstrated the peak throughput of high band devices. Recently, in the phase-2 test of the 5G technology R&D experiment in China, which was organized by the IMT-2020(5G) promotion group, ZTE Corporation first performed the 26 GHz experiment and field test, and performed interconnection tests with several instrument and chip manufacturers in the industry. In addition, ZTE Corporation has also completed an application for a formal high band test above the 40 GHz in the Shanghai R&D Institute, in order to prove that the key technical capabilities of China on various high bands have rapidly increased.

Cooperation in the Industrial Chain
In addition to operators and suppliers, the speed and pace of 5G development is also affected by chips, electronic components, software, and intelligent hardware.
In February 2017, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, ZTE Corporation, and China Mobile jointly announced that they planned to work together to perform interoperability tests and OTA field experiments based on the 5G NR standard. This is the first low-frequency IoDT test in the industry that meets 3GPP standards. The experiment will be carried out at the 3.5 GHz frequency band, aiming to promote the large-scale rapid verification and commercial use of the 5G NR technology in a wireless eco-system, so that the 5G NR infrastructure and terminals that meet the 3GPP Rel-15 standard are ready to support the timely deployment of a commercial network. The three companies will demonstrate several 5G NR technologies in the experiment, which efficiently achieve the data rate of gigabits per second, the significantly lower delay and much higher reliability as compared with the existing network, as well as other features. These technologies are critical to the growing consumer demands on the data rate. They will support the emerging mobile bandwidth experience of consumers, such as virtual reality, enhanced reality, and Internet cloud services, and will provide new services with high reliability and low delay to applications such as self-driving cars, unmanned aerial vehicles, and industrial manufacturing.

Technology Innovation and Commercial Practice
The period from 2017 to 2018 is an important phase in 5G development, linking the past with the future. The entire 5G industry will evolve from technical standards to network practice, laying the foundation for large-scale commercial use in the future.
As one of the key technologies of 5G, Massive MIMO plays a vital role in improving frequency efficiency and air-interface data bandwidth. In June 2014, ZTE Corporation first proposed the concept of implementing 5G technologies in the 4G network. During the large-scale deployment of Pre5G Massive MIMO in high-end markets in China and overseas, ZTE Corporation has taken a lead in the industry in accumulating extensive commercial experience in similar-5G application scenarios in the actual mobile network, thereby providing 3GPP and ITU with a lot of highly-valuable test data in real scenarios, greatly accelerating the maturity and improvement of core 5G technologies, and effectively shortening the verification and large-scale commercial use period of 5G products.
MUSA is another tagging technology led by ZTE Corporation. During the research and practice in the MUSA field for years, ZTE Corporation has made a major breakthrough in the design of short codes and receivers. With real grant-free and random resource selection, ZTE Corporation supports an overload rate as high as 600%, thereby providing an excellent non-orthogonal multiple access solution for large-connection requirements and solving the problem of large-scale commercial use under the huge number of connections in the future Internet-of-Things.

Common Prosperity in the Industry
It is generally believed in the industry that once put into commercial use, the 5G network will send the communications industry to a new round of development and drive a number of new trillion Yuan-level industries. A variety of industries, including the Internet of vehicles, big data, cloud computing, intelligent housing, and unmanned aerial vehicles, will usher in a period of rapid development, and industries such as artificial intelligence and intelligent manufacturing will also rise. In the Whitepaper on the Economic and Social Impact of 5G recently released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), it is pointed out that “as a technology for general purpose, 5G will fully build the key infrastructure for digital transformation of the economy and society, to promote the digital economic development in China to a new level from online development to offline development, from consumption to production, and from platforms to the ecosystem”. In China, for example, “in 2030, in the aspect of direct contributions, 5G will bring about a total output of 6.3 trillion Yuan and an economic added value of 2.9 trillion Yuan; in the aspect of indirect contributions, 5G will bring about a total output of 10.6 trillion Yuan and an economic added value of 3.6 trillion Yuan”.
Therefore, all involved parties shall take a more open attitude to build an industrial ecological environment, intensify the integration of applications in various fields, and fully create a new 5G development situation, in order to make new and greater contributions to global 5G development. Based on the globally unified 5G standards and industrial ecological environment, all parties shall accelerate the maturity process of the industry and create a collaborative and innovative cross-industry integrated ecological environment, and thereby achieve the joint development, win-win, and common prosperity of the 5G industry.

 


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