China Telecom to accelerate 5G deployment; 100% Fiber network coverage; Gigabit fiber broadband deployment

According to its latest financial report published today, China Telecom has big plans for 5G.  The report states in part:

New technologies represented by 5G and AI are integrating and evolving, enabling them to support supply-side structural reform, which will lead to a rapid expansion of potential value for digital economy. As the next generation infrastructure, 5G network will become ever more intertwined with applications and telecom operators will play an increasingly pivotal role in the information communications industry. The Company (China Telecom) will actively explore commercial applications of various new technologies, accelerate the development of operation mechanisms that are adapted for 5G, and capitalize on its advantages to promote ecological services ahead
of time.

Recently, China Telecom was awarded the 3.5GHz band to conduct nationwide 5G network trials. Leveraging the advantages of the 5G mainstream frequency band and insisting on open cooperation, the Company will accelerate 5G deployment proactively and pragmatically. Persisting in a market-oriented and demand-driven approach, the Company will appropriately manage the momentum, propel the development of non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) concurrently, and progressively expand the scale of network trials and the pilot project of 2B/2C applications.

In a presentation on its 2018 financial results, China Telecom noted these 5G milestones:

1.  Technology: 

• Published industry’s first 5G Technology White Paper
• Launched industry’s first 5G+AI handset standard
• Pioneered to accomplish 4G-5G interoperability on SA network architecture
• Pioneered to interoperate 5G SA (Stand Alone) on equipment from different vendors

2. Extensive Application Trials:

• Internet of Vehicles (IoV): 5G-based remote-controlled driving in Xiong’an and passed test
• Media convergence: Ultra-high definition 5G 4K, VR live broadcasting of gala show
• Smart city: 5G full coverage along a 28km road in city area, performing data traffic management for ultra-high definition 5G+, cloud VR and 5G smart transport
• Energy Internet: Trial on IoT electricity distribution leveraging 5G network slicing (?), performing 5G precision control on electricity distribution and usage

3.  Network Capability- Prepare for flexible and agile 5G deployment with:

• Prompt assessment and modification of existing network

• Acceleration of network cloudification and intelligent upgrade

• 100MHz spectrum at 3.5GHz band, which has the world’s most developed industry chain for 5G trial

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China Telecom plans to accelerate 5G development pragmatically:

• Persistence in SA as the goal and direction, to expediate industry chain maturity and conduct scale trials in SA/NSA which is concurrently in a very early stage
• Adjust investment plan and expand trial subject to technology maturity, licensing, market competition and results of scale trial
• Actively explore network co-building and co-sharing to reduce network construction and maintenance cost

Open co-operation initiatives include:

• Promote key 5G technology researches, actively participate in formulating 5G international standards and foster end-to-end development of industry supply chains
• Collaborate with customers and business partners for innovations, enrich products and applications
• Work with industry to commence trials on smart city, autonomous driving, industrial Internet, entertainment, medical service, education, etc.

The Company has modified its R&D system to enhance the R&D capability of key technologies of strategic, pioneering and fundamental importance, such as 5G, network capability, AI, etc.

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In its SEC Form 6-K the company wrote:   LOGO

  • Focusing on user experience, business scale expansion and value management, the Company pushed forward the construction and intelligent upgrade of its network to build up comprehensive network advantages.
  • Leveraging big data analysis, we deployed dynamic capacity expansion of 4G network with precision, and further optimized in-depth coverage at key locations.
  • The number of 4G base stations reached 1.38 million, effectively supporting the upgrade to VoLTE high definition voice, as well as the continuous growth of large data traffic business.
  • Our fiber network now fully covers all cities and towns in the service area of the Company, enabling a leading customer experience. By leading the deployment of Gigabit fiber broadband, we established a new edge in broadband network.
  • We continued to enhance our NB-IoT network, and built a whole-range speed rate IoT structure, which combines high, medium and low speeds, supporting further expansion in vertical industries.
  • By pushing forward cloud-network integration at full throttle, we continued to optimize our nationwide deployment of cloud resources and backbone network coverage, resulting in the establishment of a cloud-led network.
  • By introducing new technologies such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), the Company accelerated the re-constitution of its networks, and rolled out scale promotion of intelligent self-selecting bandwidth network products for government and enterprise customers as well as home gateway products based on SDN technology, which allows our network products to be activated within minutes.
  • We also launched a VoLTE virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) core network with software and hardware decoupling, facilitating the progress of cloudification and virtualization. This significantly strengthened our competitiveness and differentiation in the cloud market, while laying a foundation for 5G network cloudification in the future.
  • The Company proactively contributed to the formulation of international standards for 5G technologies and conducted large-scale 5G network trial runs in a number of locations.
  • We achieved some preliminary progress in areas such as 5G voice call, 4G/5G interoperability, and interoperability between (pre-standard 5G) equipment, among others.
  • By supporting the Ultra HD Live broadcast for CCTV’s 2019 Spring Festival Evening Gala with “5G+4K” and “5G+VR” solutions, we took an important step towards the successful accomplishment of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) application scenarios.
  • The Company also actively explored applications for other vertical industries, such as 5G autonomous driving bus, smart water treatment and mobile remote medical service.

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China Telecom’s CAPEX is expected to increase 4% this year, to roughly RMB78 billion ($11.6 billion), after dropping 7.9% in 2018.  That will include a 21% increase in spending on “information and application services,” to about RMB10.5 billion ($1.56 billion), as China Telecom prepares for its 5G future.

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In a paper published last August, consulting company Deloitte said China had outspent the US on 5G-supporting infrastructure by around $24 billion since 2015. Last year, the 1.9 million mobile sites across China worked out at 14.1 for every 10,000 people. With just 200,000 sites, the US had an equivalent ratio of just 4.7, according to Deloitte. Catching up with China in 5G may be “near impossible” for the Americans, Deloitte said in its report which we summarized for the IEEE Techblog.

In a recent Lightreading.com blog post, Iain Morris wrote:

With its huge population and model of state capitalism, China could be a fertile testing ground for new 5G applications. China Telecom alone had a staggering 303 million mobile customers at the end of last year — an increase of 53 million on the number in 2017 — including 242 million on 4G networks. Revenues were up 3%, to RMB377.1 billion ($56.2 billion), thanks to customer growth, and net profit rose 14%, to RMB21.2 billion ($3.16 billion).

Seeking advantage in AI, China’s government will undoubtedly look for support to a such a large, financially stable organization, with its vast reserves of customer data and stake in 5G. Demographics and democracy make the task much harder for US authorities worried about falling behind in the new technology arms race. Amid recent political talk of building a nationalized 5G network, the US operators may be under government pressure on a generation of mobile technology like never before.

Editor’s Note:  Mr. Morris strongly asserts that China Telecom said it will be a leader in delivering 5G low latency (which will be specified in 3GPP release 16- due to be completed in 2020 and later in ITU-R IMT 2020 for ultra low latency.high reliability use case).   He wrote, “China Telecom said it will be “industry leading” in latency, a signaling delay that could become a new battleground for 5G competitive advantage.”   However, we have NOT found that reference to latency in any of China Telecom’s reports (see highlights above) and presentation made today (March 19, 2019).

Slide 16 describess China Telecom’s CLOUD NETWORK & Cloud led network integration (with other subnetworks like the 5G Core, which has yet to be defined/specified).  The company’s cloud centric network is “industry leading in latency.”  Copy/paste:
Cloud-Led Network and Cloud-Network Integration


  • IDC/cloud-centric network + optimized network architecture 
 Industry-leading in latency 
…………………………………………………………………………………………..
  • To support rapid deployment of entirely cloud based 5G 
✓Large bandwidth ✓Low latency  
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How they will do entirely “cloud based 5G” is a mystery to me.  However their “industry leading low latency”  claim refers to China Telecom’s cloud network- not their 5G access or 5G mobile packet core network (yet to be defined).
 All 5G low latency claims I’ve read or heard about refer to the 5G access network- not the cloud network which is carrying many different types of traffic.  In my definition, latency should include the 5G access network, 5G mobile packet core and edge network (if any).
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The 5G-IMT2020 radio access network latency objectives, which Ericsson and others often say will faciliate many new applications, are specified in ITU-R M.2410-0: https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-r/opb/rep/R-REP-M.2410-2017-PDF-E.pdf

The minimum requirements for user plane latency are:  4 ms for eMBB and 1 ms for URLLC assuming unloaded conditions (i.e. a single user) for small IP packets (e.g. 0 byte payload + IP header), for both downlink and uplink.

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There is no spec or even target for cloud network latency related to carrying 5G packets. In fact, the cloud network might not be used at all for real time control of 5G applications such as V2V or IoT

 

6 thoughts on “China Telecom to accelerate 5G deployment; 100% Fiber network coverage; Gigabit fiber broadband deployment

  1. From Nov 26, 2018 IEEE Techblog — China Telecom Partners with Huawei for 5G innovation investments:

    China Telecom announced it has partnered with Huawei for investment in 5G innovation and has begun researching how to commercialize 5G technology. Both parties intend to leverage their advantages to develop the 5G service innovation base, build an industry ecosystem alliance, and research the usage scenarios and business models of 5G services. Huawei Wireless X Labs in Shenzhen, simulates 5G technologies and usage scenarios, and works with upstream and downstream industry partners to jointly develop industry standards and plans. China Telecom leverages the resources of 5G trial networks and existing industry customers to develop new 5G applications, driving the development of the entire 5G industry and improving China Telecom’s influence in the 5G field.

    Application Models

    Based on the first of six 5G trial network, China Telecom Shenzhen is exploring 5G application models. During the 5G Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight test and inspection demonstration, remote control personnel experienced VR capabilities and remote HD video transmission over a low-latency 5G network. Both the maiden test flight and inspection were completed successfully, demonstrating the ability of 5G to support UAV applications. This means that aerial photography, unattended inspection, logistics transportation, security identification, and other industrial applications will be driven by the rapid development of 5G in the telecom sector, creating a strong foundation for China Telecom to explore new vertical industries. In tests on Gbps-level experience buses, 5G provided an average speed of more than 1 Gbps and a peak rate of 3 Gbps, allowing passengers to experience mobile 4K IPTV, 16-channel HD video streams, and VR applications while traveling. This paves the way for China Telecom’s plans of 5G and IPTV convergence.

    To achieve its goal of connecting 50 5G sites by the end of 2018 while constructing its transport network, China Telecom Shenzhen upgraded its existing IP RAN to deploy and verify 5G technologies, enabling the co-existence of both 4G and 5G. In addition, the operator gained valuable engineering experience and developed scenario-based solutions for subsequent 5G construction.

    Addressing 5G challenges for the smooth evolution of live networks

    While bringing a wide variety of services, 5G also brings challenges in terms of bandwidth, latency, connections, and the slicing of transport networks. GNodeBs, however, deliver five to ten times more bandwidth than eNodeBs. 5G services such as Internet of Vehicles (IoV) require the latency to be one-tenth of what they are with 4G. In terms of connections, the cloudification of wireless and core networks brings full-mesh connections, requiring flexible scheduling on the transport network. In addition, 5G’s differentiated services require network slicing, with a focus on isolation and the automated management of network slices on transport networks. To cope with these challenges, China Telecom Shenzhen assessed the existing IP RAN, opting to upgrade and expand core and aggregation devices and replace specific access devices for 5G transport. To quickly deploy 5G services and fully reuse the existing network, China Telecom Shenzhen implemented the smooth evolution solution for the transport network in pilot areas.

    Network upgrade for co-existence of 4G and 5G

    The co-deployment of eNodeB and gNodeB is the optimal choice for transport networks, and China Telecom Shenzhen verified different co-existence solutions. Access ring devices can be upgraded and expanded to satisfy the requirements of 50GE ring networking and allow 4G and 5G services to share the same access ring. When access devices need to be replaced, China Telecom Shenzhen can establish a new 5G access ring, which can share the core and aggregation layer to achieve unified service bearing.

    E2E large capacity to meet HD video transmission requirements

    As China Telecom continues to explore 5G services, the convergence of 5G and IPTV has become its focus. To meet the requirements of 4K IPTV video transmission using 5G, the transport network must have large bandwidth transmission capabilities. China Telecom Shenzhen upgraded the access layer from an eNodeB GE ring to a 50GE ring, and upgraded the core and aggregation layer from a 10GE network to a 100GE network, allowing high-bandwidth connections between base stations and the core network.

    http://techblog.comsoc.org/2018/11/26/huaweis-all-bands-go-to-5g-strategy-explained-partnership-with-china-telecom-described/

  2. China’s carriers dig deep for world-beating 5G

    China’s carriers are starting their long ascent to the 5G spending peak. Two of the country’s three largest mobile providers have indicated how much they will pay for the initial buildout of next generation technology this year, the first real hint of how they might approach a huge project being rolled out with a push from Beijing. Costs look manageable for now, but investors are not in the clear.

    https://www.nasdaq.com/article/chinas-carriers-dig-deep-for-worldbeating-5g-20190321-00245

  3. China Mobile on 5G:

    We will continue to conduct tests on the 5G network and perform trials on business applications to ensure the precommercial launch of 5G services this year. We aim to provide direction and leadership for 5G development, exploring suitable 5G products and business models with industry partners. To build a strong foundation for the ongoing transformation towards an intelligent network, we will speed up the pace of network upgrades and strengthen our core capabilities. The Company will expand into new retail business and strive for the large-scale development of our own branded intelligent hardware. We will build up our capabilities in key business areas and develop an open and shared innovative ecosystem. In order to realize a win-win situation, we will continue to enhance the collaborative opening-up efforts, reinforcing industrial cooperation,investment planning and international expansion.

    http://mms.prnasia.com/00941/20190321/2018ARPressRelease_ENG.pdf

  4. From MIT Tech Review:
    In its 13th Five-Year Plan the government describes 5G as a “strategic emerging industry” and “new area of growth,” and in its Made in China 2025 plan, which outlines its goal of becoming a global manufacturing leader, it vows to “make breakthroughs in fifth-generation mobile communication.”

    Clearly, China is serious about making this work—and on an epic scale. China sees 5G as its first chance to lead wireless technology development on a global scale.

    In a TV interview, Jianzhou Wang, the former chairman of China Mobile, China’s largest mobile operator, described the development of China’s mobile communication industry from 1G to 5G as “a process of from nothing to something, from small to big, and from weak to strong.”

    Money is another good reason. The Chinese government views 5G as crucial to the country’s tech sector and economy. After years of making copycat products, Chinese tech companies want to become the next Apple or Microsoft—innovative global giants worth nearly a trillion dollars.

    The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a government-run research institute, estimates that 5G will create more than 8 million jobs domestically by 2030. The agency thinks major industries, including energy and health care, will spend billions of dollars collectively on 5G equipment and wireless service during that period.

    The government controls all three of the country’s mobile operators (China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom) and has been “guiding” them to deploy large-scale 5G test networks in dozens of cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. China Mobile claims that its tests alone represent the world’s largest 5G trial network.

    Under government direction, Chinese companies began conducting research on 5G in 2013 and holding technical trials of related technologies in 2016. “Chinese operators see their job as implementing government policy, whereas most global telecom companies try to balance competitive factors and will naturally invest at a slower pace,” says Chris Lane, a research analyst for investment management firm Sanford C. Bernstein.

    Beijing has also committed to giving Chinese operators large chunks of spectrum for 5G. That’s a far cushier arrangement than operators enjoy in the US and many other countries, where they pay regulators billions of dollars for the right to use slivers of spectrum. These radio frequencies carry wireless signals and are critical to cellular service, especially 5G, which will need wide swaths of bandwidth to provide users with super-fast speeds.

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612617/china-is-racing-ahead-in-5g-heres-what-it-means/

  5. China to join top global ranks in 5G says a senior executive at Guangdong province-based iVision Ventures:

    “5G is the basic infrastructure that will foster a wide range of new areas of application, such as autonomous driving, internet of vehicles, augmented reality and virtual reality – and China is set to join the top ranks globally in terms of 5G commercialization,” said Cheng Hao, Xunlei co-founder and founding partner of iVision Ventures, during a Hundun University course on Friday.

    Cheng said that 5G connectivity will not only meet consumers’ demand for faster download speeds, but will also influence developments in self-driving cars and the internet of things.

    According to China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the nation’s carriers are set to generate 1.9 trillion yuan in total revenue from 5G business from 2020-2025.

    “Superfast 5G technology will provide 10 times the data transmission rate of 4G,” said Liu Duo, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology president.

    “In the 5G era, higher reliability and lower latency can be realized, making the internet of things more effective and allowing autonomous cars to become a reality.”

    To date 5G network pilot projects have been launched in 25 provinces, autonomous regions and cities nationwide.

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201903/30/WS5c9efee3a3104842260b3726.html

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