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Coming up next: 5G, digital 'breakthroughs'

By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2021-03-22 08:55

A visitor shoots a video of a robot during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2021 on Feb 23, while Chinese and foreign exhibitors display their 5G products in artificial intelligence, the internet of things and smart homes. [Photo/XINHUA]

Government Work Report and the outline of a long-term plan stress development of 'new infrastructure' in 2021-35 period

China's efforts to quicken the rollout of the fifth-generation or 5G wireless technology will spawn a wide range of new applications in the consumer and industrial sectors, senior company executives and experts said.

That, in turn, will accelerate the strong momentum already propelling the development of the nation's digital economy, they said.

Their comments follow the 2021 Government Work Report that said China will step up the development of 5G networks and extend the application of the superfast wireless technology in more settings.

That's not all. According to an outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for national economic and social development and the long-range objectives through the year 2035, the nation will accelerate the large-scale deployment of 5G networks and increase its penetration rate to 56 percent over the next five years.

Taken together, the report and the outline clearly indicate that the next five years are a crucial period for 5G development in China, said Wang Zhiqin, deputy head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank.

China is likely to achieve several breakthroughs in its technological evolution, network construction and applications, Wang said.

"By the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), China will have built the world's largest and most extensive stand-alone 5G network and basically achieve full network coverage in urban and rural areas."

This year, China will build more than 600,000 5G base stations, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the top industry regulator in China.

The plan follows the nation's investment of more than 260 billion yuan ($40 billion) to build the world's largest 5G network so far.

Over 718,000 5G base stations have been built across China by the end of last year, accounting for roughly 70 percent of the world's total.

5G signals are now available in more than 300 cities at prefecture level and above, the ministry said.

The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology estimated that Chinese telecom operators' investment in 5G network construction is likely to reach 1.2 trillion yuan by 2025.

An additional investment of 3.5 trillion yuan is likely to flow into the upstream and downstream segments of the industrial chain as well as other related areas.

Senior company executives said such an extensive 5G rollout plan will lay a solid foundation for the use of the superfast wireless technology in the consumer and industrial sectors, and help businesses accelerate their ongoing efforts for digital transformation.

Ding Yun, president of Huawei's carrier business group, said: "5G is no longer for early adopters. It is improving our daily lives. 2021 will be the first year with large-scale 5G industry applications. Operators will need new capabilities in network planning, deployment, maintenance, optimization and operations, in order to achieve 'Zero to One', and replicate success from one to many."

According to Ding, Huawei's 5G applications have already been deployed in more than 20 industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education and logistics. The technology has already proved its worth in coal mining, steelmaking and manufacturing by making production safer, more intelligent, and more efficient.

In February, the Chinese tech heavyweight unveiled its new 5G solution for businesses, as it aims to scale up the application of the superfast wireless technology in a greater variety of sectors.

Building on its experience in connectivity, computing, and industry digitalization, Huawei has worked with telecom operators and other industry partners to develop a one-stop solution that covers sales, operations and services-the 5G-to-B solution.

This solution will simplify transactions for enterprise users, help operators monetize their network capabilities, and allow partners to innovate more efficiently, creating new value for every player involved, Ding said.

Huawei said it has worked with telecom operators, partners and enterprise users to apply the 5G-to-B solution first in the steel industry.

With their capabilities and experience embedded into this platform, industrial 5G solutions like automated billet rotation, augmented-reality-assisted remote assembly, and steel surface quality inspection can be standardized and rapidly replicated, Huawei said.

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