China Telecom's Xia Xu: New SA Services Drive Evolution to 5G-Advanced Core

Updated:2023/7/12 09:32

Recently, the 5G SA industry roundtable was successfully held at MWC Shanghai 2023. At this roundtable, Xia Xu, 3GPP SA1 Vice Chairman and Standard Director of China Telecom Research Institute, delivered a speech entitled "Continuous Innovation for Cloud-Network Synergy Enables 5G-Advanced Business Success ", in which he shared China Telecom's successful experience in 5G SA buildouts and operations as well as research ideas on the evolution towards 5G Advanced.

Sustainable, high-quality development of China Telecom's 5G SA services

Four years of efforts have resulted in high-quality, sustainable development of 5G SA services. China Telecom's mobile communications market share has grown steadily. As of the end of 2022, it had amassed 391 million users, and the penetration rate of its 5G package users had reached up to 68.5%. 5G SA can bring significant growth opportunities to ARPU, underpinning the development of 5GtoC services such as short videos, live streaming, and cloud applications with its high bandwidth and low latency. For example, live streamers require high mobile network performance and are willing to upgrade 5G common packages to 5G live streaming ones, increasing operator revenues. This, in turn, incentivizes operators to further innovate, providing differentiated services to 5G users. The primary source of 4G income is from traffic, but with 5G, operators further refine user groups based on their core service requirements and network use habits, and promote service packages tailored for them. China Telecom has achieved business success of 5GtoC, largely because it keeps exploring and addressing user requirements.

Furthermore, China Telecom keeps a close eye on accommodating different 5GtoB verticals. It has won nearly 15,000 5GtoB commercial projects, more than 8,000 of which were launched in 2022, fully unleashing the power of 5G in service transformation for the verticals. It is worth mentioning that China Telecom's 5GtoB projects can be replicated on a large scale. For example, the smart factory project for technology enterprises has increased the yield rate from 90% to 95% and the production efficiency by 200%. The project has been replicated in more than 50 factories of the same type. Additionally, the "open-air coal mine + extra-large-scale 5G dedicated network" project has been replicated in more than 40 similar factories. During 5G deployment, China Telecom has aligned with the guideline of "network as the basis, cloud as the core, agile network adjustment upon cloud changes, and cloud-network integration" for cloud-network synergy. It aims to build a highly secure, reliable network with ubiquitous connectivity, continuously enabling the application and commercialization of 5GtoC and 5GtoB services.

Leveraging cutting-edge technologies, core network is key to the rapid growth of 5G SA users

The core network is the backbone of a mobile communications network. As such, in the 5G SA era, it is of utmost importance to ramp up the development of the SA core network, which controls 5G UE access and migration, as well as managing UEs. Additionally, the core network needs to provide services in coordination with its peripheral components, for example EPC, IMS, and bearer and transport network devices. Resource pools are also required. To achieve business objectives, planning needs to be performed in advance. China Telecom also proposed a "Three Layers + Four Planes" 5G-Advanced architecture, which helps advance the innovation of 5G-Advanced technologies and turbocharge the development of the 5G industry.

Innovative services fast-track the network transformation towards 5G-Advanced

With 5G gaining commercial momentum, immersive experience, network intelligence, and ubiquitous connectivity are increasingly leveraged in 5G applications, urgently calling for a 5G-Advanced Core. 5G-Advanced fuels both B2B and B2C services. As B2C services such as XR and glasses-free 3D become mature, and mobile office and distance learning become the norm, services are more diversified and evolve towards the following aspects: high bandwidth, super elephant flows, low latency, and on-demand cross-domain access. These aspects pose two new requirements for network evolution: differentiated (instead of best-effort) network quality assurance; secure, convenient cross-domain network access. Operators are expected to build intelligent service model–based identification and differentiated network quality guarantee capabilities, as well as a reliable, flexible, and secure architecture supporting cross-domain service access. To fast-track the application of 5G-Advanced to B2B applications, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and other departments jointly launched the 5G application "Sailing" plan. In 2022, the MIIT issued Guideline for Construction of 5G Fully Connected Factoriesto support enterprises in building diverse 5G fully connected factories. The guidelines help tens of thousands of enterprises build 5G fully connected factories, 1000 classified and hierarchical factories with distinctive features, and 100 benchmark factories, promoting the in-depth development of 5G converged applications. 5G-Advanced Core is expected to resolve industry technical pain points and fulfill basic communication needs in 3GPP R18 and R19, so as to bring more value with its features, such as 5G LAN, high-precision positioning, URLLC, network slicing, 5GDN, RedCap, and NTN. As a result, industries raise requirements on evolving to the 5G-Advanced network, forming relevant standards, and fitting 5G-Advanced network in more service scenarios.

China Telecom has mapped out a research system for 5G Advanced/6G air-ground integration, and made breakthroughs in some standards and simulation tests, achieving "connection, communication, and convergence." These efforts will guide China Telecom in outlining an air-ground integrated network architecture and enhancing technologies based on requirements such as global coverage, all-time access, and full-scenario services. China Telecom will keep in close touch with industry organizations and partners to continuously innovate and contribute in terms of terminals, applications, network capabilities, and standards, propelling the robust, sustainable development of 5G industry.

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