x-China Mobile Chairman: 5G phones have no new features, new 5G devices urgently needed

The 2021 Sohu Technology 5G&AI Summit was held in Beijing on May 17. Wang Jianzhou, former chairman of China Mobile and senior consultant at GSMA shared his views on 5G in his speech.

Wang Jianzhou believes that the current 5G industry applications have achieved many results, such as smart control, smart logistics, smart security, telemedicine, etc., but the perception of the consumer market is not strong.

“There is no ready-made experience for 5G consumer-level applications to learn from. Every year at the Barcelona Communications Exhibition, I am most concerned about what applications are there, but they are all industrial applications.” Wang Jianzhou said.

In addition to chips and antenna modules, 5G mobile phones don’t really have any new features.  Indeed, compared with the overwhelming hype, the perception of 5G on the consumer side is not strong. Major mobile phone manufacturers are looking forward to using 5G to boost mobile phone sales, but with the limited application of 5G consumption scenarios and expensive packages, it is unknown whether 5G can stimulate  significant smartphone upgrades.

Despite the huge scale of China’s 5G efforts, with 819,000 base stations deployed and 285 million package subscribers signed up, industry leaders are worried about the lack of innovative services and rising energy costs.  Wang said only “massive consumer-level applications” could take full advantage of the coverage and huge capacity of 5G networks.  He said that while many industrial use cases had already become a reality, new consumer 5G applications were rare.

“I think the tipping point of 5G consumer-level applications is likely to be the device,” he said.

“They are not yet ideal 5G mobile phones. Consumers need 5G mobile devices with new functions,” he said, citing the impact of browser-enabled phones, led by the iPhone, that drove the explosion of 3.5G and 4G mobile Internet.

“Except for a faster video download speed, I didn’t find any other use for 5G.  The 5G package is so expensive, and the first thing a 5G phone is to turn off 5G. So what’s the use of 5G? But it only increases power consumption.”

A repeat complaint of China’s “5G package” customers is:  “I got a 5G package upgrade, I have a 4G mobile phone, and I don’t have a 5G network, so I got lonely.” That’s according to China’s Weibo microblogging website.

Indeed, global smartphone sales have recently decreased:

  • According to Gartner, global smartphone sales fell by 20.2% and 20.4% year-on-year, in the quarter and second quarter of 2020, respectively.
  • According to the latest data from IDC, global smartphone shipments fell 1.3% year-on-year in the third quarter of this year.
  • According to a report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the cumulative shipments of 5G mobile phones from January to September last year were 108 million, and the total number of new models on the market was 167, accounting for 47.7% and 46.5%, respectively. Whether it is shipments or models, it accounts for less than half.

Wang Jianzhou made several suggestions for 5G consumer-level applications:

First, pay attention to consumer-level IoT applications. “Consumers will pay more attention to entertainment, such as cloud gaming. In addition, if we can combine AR, VR and the Internet of Things, we can create many new consumer-level applications.”

Second, extend the functions of mobile phones. “The explosion of 3G applications is the popularization of smart phones. The tipping point of 5G consumer-level applications is likely to be terminals. Except for 5G chips and 5G antenna modules, current 5G mobile phones do not see new functions, which is not ideal. The state of 5G mobile phone.”

“I think the functions of 5G mobile phones should extend from communication, social networking, browsing, shopping, payment, navigation, verification, entertainment to the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, and make mobile phones a controller that connects everything. This extension is actually becoming a reality. Nowadays, some mobile phones have been equipped with laser rangefinders, so that the mobile phones have the function of measuring distance, which can produce some new applications.”

Third, focus on wearable devices. “5G’s application flashpoint is also likely to be wearable devices. The combination with 5G smartphones will produce many new functions. For example, camera and laser systems are installed in glasses and helmets and connected to 5G mobile phones for processing.” Wang Jianzhou said.

5G’s outlook was clouded by “a serious shortage” of both low-end and middle-range spectrum, Wang said.  “It is essential to establish multi-band coordinated 5G networks as soon as possible.”

He also said operators should be further encouraged to expand network co-construction and sharing.

Network sharing and rollout had already become a trend, he noted, with China Unicom and China Telecom saving billions of dollars from their shared 5G project.

Jianzhou also called on the industry to drive down energy consumption by adding network intelligence. The huge power consumption and high operating costs of 5G networks meant it was necessary to further improve 5G network efficiency and to implement intelligent networks.




4 thoughts on “x-China Mobile Chairman: 5G phones have no new features, new 5G devices urgently needed

  1. The “5G hoax” in China began several years ago and was perpetrated by the CCP (China Communist Party)[1.]. With billions of dollars of investments made in China’s 5G infrastructure, the promises of new services, applications and use cases has not been realized. More importantly, that big lie could not be covered up any more. Mr. Wang Jianzhou’s recent remarks are an example of a more realistic assessment of 5G in China.

    In recent months, many people from Chinese operators, equipment vendors [2.] and research institutes warned that China’s 5G is now and will continue to be a slow process. They reminded China residents to be patient. I wonder if they remember they were the same guys bragging about China’s 5G technologies, over and over again and again two years ago?

    Mr. Wang Jianzhou mostly criticized 5G smartphones and the lack of other 5G devices, but the real truth is that China’s 5G deployments are a huge failure and the CCP’s “central planning” has not produced the desired results. China’s 5G package subscribers are not at all satisfied with the service they’re getting (which is often based on 4G-LTE) and complain to that effect on China’s social media platforms.

    In addition, Mr. Wang Jianzhou evidently does not understand that all the 5G use cases he mentioned are, in reality, 4G level use cases. Some use cases, such as AR/VR, cannot be realized with any current 5G devices because the very low latency and ultra high reliability (URLLC) needed for those has not been standardized (e.g. neither in IMT 2020 or 3GPP Release 16) and is therefore unavailable.

    The simple morale of this story is don’t trust China claims on 5G, as they are mostly propaganda with no real foundation or support.


    1. 2019 You Tube video The Chinese Communist Party Lies and Conceals

    2. Huawei Executive: “China’s 5G user experience is fake, dumb and poor”-is it a con game?

  2. Mobile users unhappy with lack of dedicated 5G apps, services – Ericsson

    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – About 70% of users are dissatisfied with the apps and services bundled with their 5G plans, according to a study carried out by Ericsson ConsumerLab in 26 markets around the world and released on Wednesday.

    Companies promoting 5G have promised super-fast connections that would bring in new applications, transforming our lives and enabling everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery.

    “While early adopters are pleased with 5G network speeds, they are already expressing dissatisfaction with a lack of bundled new and innovative apps and services, which they feel were promised in the marketing pitch for 5G,” Ericsson said.

    Currently there are 1.3 billion smartphone users globally, including 220 million 5G subscribers, and Ericsson expects https://www.ericsson.com/en/reports-and-papers/consumerlab/reports/five-ways-to-a-better-5g 5G user base to cross 300 million this year.

    Apart from some Asian markets such as South Korea and China, service providers have been slow in bundling 5G with digital services beyond what is already being offered on 4G – such as music and video steaming, the study showed.

    Consumers are willing to pay 20% to 30% more for 5G plans bundled with new digital services, Ericsson said.

    “Service providers need to offer exclusive content and services that could differentiate a 5G experience from 4G and promote a sense of novelty and exclusivity,” Ericsson said.

    Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska


  3. Enterprise, not 5G, powers China Mobile, Unicom earnings growth

    China Mobile now claims 331 million “5G package” customers – that is, customers that have signed up for a 5G plan. Of these, just 160 million are using the new network with a 5G device. That’s still an enormous number itself and includes the 33 million added in Q3 alone – more than South Korea’s entire 5G customer base.

    But while China Mobile might be sweating the LTE network by selling bigger data bundles to 4G users, it is carrying 171 million ‘5G’ customers on its 4G legacy network, which means it is missing out on the efficiency and capacity gains of 5G. That is especially concerning when mobile ARPU is down. Mobile’s ARPU slipped 4.0% from Q2 to Q3 – not where you want to go when you’re piling on 5G subs and when mobile data usage per handset has climbed by a third.
    Rather than 5G, enterprise was the biggest source of growth for both China Mobile and China Unicom.

    China Mobile’s Q3 cloud and industrial internet revenue soared 46% to 49 billion yuan, or nearly a quarter of total revenue. The company said it had “seized the development opportunities” provided by accelerated digital transformation.

    China Unicom’s Q3 industry internet revenue increased 29% to 12 billion yuan – around 15% of its total sales.

    Looking ahead, China Unicom said it hoped to “fully unlock” the potential of digital transformation and its the mixed-ownership reform.


  4. WSJ: 5G Expands to More-Affordable Phones as Chip Prices Fall

    5G is increasingly available in cheaper phones, making faster mobile service affordable to more lower-income consumers around the world, market researchers say.

    The key to this broader access to 5G service is the falling price of the specialized semiconductors needed for 5G phones, a trend that analysts expect to continue over the next two years. The lower price makes it economically feasible to put the chips in a wider range of phones.

    Already, 5G technology has moved beyond the premium smartphone market, in which devices sell for $550 or more, to the midtier market where devices sell for $250 to $550, and even cheaper 5G phones are available in some places, says Jeff Fieldhack, research director at Counterpoint Research.

    5G technology is “moving very quickly downwards in terms of affordability, faster than any previous generation,” says Frank Boulben, chief revenue officer of Verizon Communications Inc.’s Consumer Group. In Asia, prioritization of 5G chips by chip manufacturers in China and Taiwan is pushing chip prices lower and driving the production of budget 5G-capable devices, says Neil Shah, vice president of research at Counterpoint.

    The average price of a so-called 5G system-on-a-chip that performs multiple functions is now $40 to $45, according to Counterpoint. That price could reach $20 late this year or early next year, at which point it would make economic sense for more mobile-phone makers to put 5G chips in devices with a retail price of around $150, says Mr. Fieldhack.

    U.S. carrier Consumer Cellular Inc. expects to offer a 5G phone priced at $199 by June, and one priced at around $150 by early next year, according to Greg Hughes, the company’s vice president of portfolio strategy. Currently the company offers 5G-capable phones priced at $349 and higher. Mr. Hughes says he expects consumer adoption of 5G to increase when the technology is available in lower-priced smartphones.

    Globally, 5G capability will spread to at least 80% of phones priced under $200 over the next two to three years, from less than 5% now, says Runar Bjørhovde, research analyst at market-research firm Canalys.

    42% of smartphones shipped to retailers around the world in 2021 were 5G-capable, according to Counterpoint. That percentage is expected to increase to 54% this year and 66% next year, Counterpoint says. In the U.S., 58% of smartphones shipped to retailers were 5G-capable last year, and that percentage is expected to increase to 83% by the end of this year and to 89% by the end of 2023, Counterpoint says.


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