Director of China Telecom Technology Innovation Center : 5G Should Reduce Hot Spot Pattern, Coverage

Updated:2017/11/22 17:13

As the 5G standard process is carried out vigorously, the expected commercialization of 5G in 2020 is close at hand, high expectations are given to 5G by the industry strain, including the government, operators, equipment vendors, chip manufacturers and more.

In the International Workshop on Future ICT Technologies-2017 sponsored by Future Mobile Communication Forum, Bi Qi, the director of China Telecom Technology Innovation Center, said in the interview with C114, through large-scale antennas and high frequency bandwidth, 5G will provide more than ten times faster connection speed for the users and ten times larger system capacity for the operators; meanwhile, the traffic data cost will decrease sharply and the subscribers could expect a remarkable increase of traffic data in the package.

Although has been engaged in the mobile communication industry for nearly thirty years, Bi Qi is worried about the current 5G development. In his view, the great success of mobile communication industry is based on large scale continuous coverage. The current development of 5G, however, is involved in short-range hot spot pattern and unduly stresses the commercial value of network peak rate. In addition, in exploiting the vertical industries and IoT applications of 5G, it is too impetuous and doesn’t pay enough attention to the reliability, coverage, power consumption and cost of deployment that vertical industries actually need.

Bi Qi also called on the government to enhance policy support and create good financing environment for the operators. Otherwise, it would be difficult for operators to continue to invest in 4G and 5G in the short term and keep steady growth of the state-owned assets every year.

5G should avoid hot spot pattern

Bi Qi said that most designs in the development history of mobile communication technologies were based on long-distance communication. During the current evolution from 4G to 5G, however, the development speed is faster and faster, and anxious mood begins to appear in the industry chain, short-range and hot spot pattern is becoming more and more serious. On the other hand, during the evolution from vehicular communication to personal communication, system capacity is always the bottleneck in the development. However, it is no longer the main contradiction when mobile subscribers saturated. Unfortunately, the old thinking still drives the vendors to focus on capacity, ignoring the major demands of current eMBB applications and vertical industries.

"The core value of mobile communication is coverage, experiences show that the commercial value of short-range coverage hot spot transmission is very limited, mobile is the rule. If 5G is featured by hot spot coverage, the profit space will be greatly reduced and development of the industry chain will be threatened. The operators and equipment vendors should focus on coverage, reliability and deployment cost, which are key aspects of mobile communications industry." Therefore, Bi Qi proposed that 5G industry should avoid excessive development towards the short-range hot spot pattern.

During the 5G development process led by eMBB, the vendors always put peak rate as the core in their presentations, the above 10Gbps speed raised high expectations of the users, however, how many users and application scenarios indeed are willing to pursue such speed by increasing the cost? "Judging from the demands determined by the standard organization, many assumptions are based on short-range hot spot communication, which is opposite to the core value of mobile communication. It can be deployed, but cannot be dominated."

Coverage with reasonable cost is the rule

In order to succeed, 5G has to provide better experience for mobile communication subscribers, while continuous coverage is the precondition. "How to achieve low-cost continuous coverage is the priority of the industry."

5G network generally runs at high frequencies. In the frequency planning of the MIIT, 3.5GHz will be the preferred band for 5G scale deployment, "in order to achieve continuous coverage in 3.5GHz band, the demand for base stations will be several times higher than 1.8G LTE network, a large number of new sites and backhaul resources will be needed, let alone the millimeter wave network"

This will bring great pressure to the operators, although the consumer market oriented eMBB can significantly enhance user experience, 4G network businesses show that customers are unwilling to pay more money for higher speed. Although the DOU achieves explosive growth, the ARPU doesn’t increase and even declines. In this case, the operators lack the capacity to invest in 5G ahead of schedule.

Operators cannot bear the burden of 5G alone

According to the current schedule, China will conduct 5G pre-commercial trials in 2019 and achieve commercialization in 2020. This plan, according to Bi Qi, is radical and doesn’t leave enough time for the industry chain.

"From the perspective of national economy, the mobile communication industry does show strong driving forces, the government's attitude towards 5G is fully affirmed, especially in defining the C-Band spectrum applications for the first time in the world, which contributes to the achievement of China's 5G leading strategy and spurt of technology."

Meanwhile, the government should consider the operators’ investment ability seriously. "3G/4G licenses are issued late in China, the three major operators all carry out large scale 4G network investments, which are still in the investment stage in this year, the investment has not been fully recovered." Bi Qi said, "it needs at least 7-8 years to recover the investment in every generation of mobile communication technology, according to the current investment schedule of 5G network, the operators’ financing will face great challenges in the existing business model."

As state-owned enterprises, the operators not only need to improve the network speed and cut down the tariff£¬drive the investments and promote transformation and upgrading the national economy, but also to achieve maintenance and appreciation of the state-owned assets. "For telecommunication industry, such contradictory requirements are difficult for operators."

There is a long way to go to reach the vertical industries

Although 5G is expected to bring opportunities for operators to enter the vertical industries, mMTC and uRLLC are not mature enough, while the vertical market is of high requirements, 5G can only meet the requirements through step-by-step development, it will not achieve major breakthroughs in short term.

Providing support for short time-delay through new design of 5G, the industry agrees with the potential of 5G uRLLC application and development, with the most anticipated application of supporting automatic drive. However, Bi Qi said that although 5G is much better than 4G in supporting for short time-delay applications, there is still a long way to go before applied in vertical industries. The short board of mobile communication is reliability, with the most successful applications of mobile communication being achieved by trying its best, the reliability cannot be fully guaranteed. In this situation, it is not realistic to expect 5G to become the control network of automatic drive.

According to Bi Qi, there is a lot of work to be done in supporting for mMTC applications. The main requirements of mMTC are deep coverage, low power consumption, low traffic data and low cost. While 5G standard design is characterized by high frequency, high bandwidth, high traffic data and high unit cost, there are indeed many challenges to achieve this goal. Extensive attention should be paid in setting the standards, otherwise, 5G is difficult to compete with the 4G NB-IoT.

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