China Unicom's 5G Private Network PLUS: Technological Power Behind Life Saving and So Much More

Updated:2023/4/27 11:22

With a rapidly aging global population and accelerating urbanization, cerebrovascular accidents are becoming more of a major public health problem. Strokes too often result in disability, death, and are highly likely to re-occur. After the onset of a stroke, most patients urgently require intravenous thrombolysis and revascularization to recover. However, it may be too late by the time the patient reaches the emergency room.

A major breakthrough using 5G has created a new treatment model for stroke victims. Xuanwu Hospital's National Engineering Research Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth (NERCTT) partnered with China Unicom and Huawei to build the "5G Mobile Stroke Unit – Maintaining Brain Health" project, China's first comprehensive 5G mobile stroke treatment platform.

On February 28, 2023, this project won the GSMA's Best Mobile Innovation for the Connected Health and Wellbeing during MWC23 Barcelona. One GSMA judge spoke highly of the project: "This employed leading edge technologies in direct support of a highly compelling, globally applicable use case — helping resolve a specific medical issue at the point of need. Multiple technical challenges had to be overcome, and it is hoped that the learnings will translate to broader use cases, across healthcare and beyond."

The "5G Mobile Stroke Unit – Maintaining Brain Health" project won the Best Mobile Innovation for the Connected Health and Wellbeing during MWC23

On April 20, during the Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2023, Dr. Chen Dan, the 5G Industry Director of Government and Enterprise Department in China Unicom, delivered a keynote speech entitled Accelerating Industry Digitalization Towards an Intelligent, Connected World, which unveiled the story behind China's first comprehensive 5G mobile stroke treatment platform.

According to Dr. Chen, as early as 2020, China Unicom released the first 5G Private Network PLUS product for industrial customers. Based on the 5GCtoB-empowered "one cloud plus one network", China Unicom launched three models of private networks: virtual private network, hybrid private network, and exclusive private network. It also built an integrated operations platform to implement "one-entry subscription, one-click provisioning, and one-stop services" of 5G private networks for diverse industries.

In 2021, China Unicom released 5G Private Network PLUS 2.0 and achieved breakthroughs in three aspects: network capabilities, industry convergence, and operation services. It launched 20 industry-based 5G application solutions — which are end-to-end standardized, professional, and systematic — for industrial customers. In addition, China Unicom, together with the Health Commission of Hainan Province and Huawei, launched the "5G Smart Healthcare Lights up Hainan Healthy Island" project. In the project, 5G telemedicine devices were deployed in 18 city/county-level hospitals, 340 township health centers, and 2700 village clinics. The project aims to provide leading primary medical services in China so that small diseases can be treated within primary health centers and serious diseases can be treated on the island. To achieve this, the project team has set up a smart healthcare demonstration benchmark that comprehensively applies to multiple scenarios at all levels of medical institutions in Hainan. The medical treatment time is now shortened by 3 to 5 hours on average, with a 30% improvement in efficiency. This was the predominant reason why this project was highly recognized by the industry and won the Best Mobile Innovation for the Connected Human Award during MWC22 Barcelona.

In 2022, China Unicom released 5G Private Network PLUS 3.0. By launching local-, wide-, and cross-domain 5G private network products for 10 industries — covering mining, steel, equipment manufacturing, port, electric power, ocean, Internet of Vehicles (IoV), education, healthcare, and e-Government — the 5G private network products consolidated the foundation for 5G compute-network synergy and gained wide recognition. For example, the Yanjiahe Smart Mining project — the world's first highly reliable 5G private network, jointly rolled out by China Unicom and its industrial partners such as Huawei — was selected as an excellent case of the GSMA 5G Transformation Hub. China Unicom's other projects such as 5G fully connected factories for Media Group's Shunde Factory of Midea Kitchen and Water Heater Appliances Division, as well as 5G smart healthcare in Xinchang city, Zhejiang province were selected as GSMA's 5G Use Cases for Verticals in China. In addition, China Unicom and Huawei won the Enterprise 5G Leadership Award at the 2022 5G World Summit.

Dr. Chen Dan, the 5G Industry Director of Government and Enterprise Department in China Unicom, delivered a keynote speech

Based on the 5G Private Network PLUS, the "5G Mobile Stroke Unit – Maintaining Brain Health" project — jointly implemented by China Unicom, Xuanwu Hospital of Capital Medical University, China Information Technology Designing &Consulting Institute (CITC), Bechoice, and Huawei — uses technologies such as 5G slicing, ultra-long-distance coverage, and Multi-access Edge Computing to upload patients' CT images, vital sign data, and monitoring videos to the hospital for telemedicine guidance over China Unicom's seamless 5G networks. As such, CT scanning, laboratory tests, diagnosis, and intravenous thrombolysis can be remotely performed in the 5G Mobile Stroke Unit, and the time between receiving the patient and applying thrombolytic therapy is shortened significantly to around 17 to 28 minutes. This is far quicker than the conventional procedure that involves both pre-hospital first aid and in-hospital emergency treatment. This project has been implemented in 22 medical units across 16 provinces in China, benefiting nearly 120 million people.

It is worth mentioning that the 5G Applications Innovation Alliance, led by China Unicom, has grown significantly, with more than 3000 ecosystem partners. It encompasses advantageous resources in the industrial ecosystem, leads the way in the rapid development of 5G applications, and continuously explores more application scenarios. Up until now, this alliance has launched more than 19,000 5G industry application projects and more than 4500 5G industry virtual private network projects, covering 52 major categories of the national economy.

Leveraging its advantages of "high connectivity, aggregated capabilities, and integrated operations", China Unicom will dive deeper into key vertical industries and fuel digital technology convergence and innovation, accelerating industry digitalization to create a fully connected, intelligent world.

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