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China Mobile drives new tech, pioneers novel applications

By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2022-01-25 09:16

China Mobile employees debug the antenna of a 5G base station in Anhui province in December. GUO SHINING/FOR CHINA DAILY

China Mobile, the world's largest telecom operator by mobile subscribers, is stepping up its reform efforts to boost efficiency and hone its research and development prowess.

Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, said the company had, by the end of 2021, finished 93 percent of the goals set for a three-year action plan (2020-22) for State-owned enterprises.

In 2020, China began to implement the three-year action plan, aiming to deepen reforms in SOEs to make them more competitive, innovative and risk-resistant.

Yang said the company has beefed up efforts to reform its corporate structure, human resources management, as well as strengthened research and development spending to be more innovative.

Currently, technical employees account for 30 percent of China Mobile's total employees, and the company has established more than 10 R&D institutions.

In 2021, China Mobile's R&D expenditure exceeded 30 billion yuan ($4.73 billion), up from 29.5 billion yuan in 2020 and 23.5 billion yuan in 2019.

Over 170,000 employees at China Mobile and 13,000 external teams have participated in the company's innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives, coming up with new projects and ideas for innovation, Yang said.

Earlier this month, China Mobile's IPO on the Shanghai Stock Exchange proved to be the largest in the A-share market in 10 years.

According to its prospectus, China Mobile could raise nearly 56 billion yuan after exercising an overallotment option.

China's big three telecom carriers-China Mobile and its two smaller competitors, China Telecom and China Unicom-have now all moved back to the Shanghai Stock Exchange from US bourses.

Yang said the Shanghai listing marks a new milestone for China Mobile that can attract both domestic and overseas capital, thus laying a solid foundation for promoting digital intelligence transformation and accelerating high-quality development.

Since its founding in 2000, China Mobile has grown into a top-notch telecommunications operator with the world's largest telecom network, the largest number of customers, and an industry-leading profitability. Its operating income has continued to grow, and annual net profit has exceeded 100 billion yuan for many years, Yang said.

China Mobile's base stations now account for 30 percent of the total number of base stations in the world. China Mobile has built more than 700,000 5G base stations so far, accounting for 35 percent of the world's total 5G base stations.

China Mobile now serves 950 million individual users and 200 million household users, also the largest in the world, Yang said.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said China Mobile is working hard to generate more revenue by experimenting with new technologies and pioneering new applications of 5G technologies.

For instance, Migu Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Mobile that provides digital content and services, is eyeing the metaverse for future development, as it steps up its push to integrate the development of 5G, virtual reality, augmented reality and other cutting-edge digital technologies.

The "metaverse" is one of the hottest buzzwords that are seen as the mainstay of internet development in the next phase, where the virtual and physical worlds will become more interconnected, industry analysts said. The metaverse can mean virtual worlds shared by users, or digital spaces augmented by VR and AR technologies.

Liu Xin, general manager of Migu, said a ubiquitous computing power network is the most solid base for the metaverse, and it will also need a gaming interaction engine.

According to Liu, Migu is working to build such an engine, and the company also aims to deliver an immersive social experience for users.

By creating different software and hardware environments like ultrahigh-definition video, VR and AR, Migu wants to pioneer a new way of social interaction, realizing the connection between people, people and things, and things and things, as well as satisfying consumers' self-realization.

Fu Liang, an independent telecom analyst, said long-term efforts are needed for supporting technologies to mature and for business models to make the metaverse a profitable proposition.

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