After three years of licensing spectrum for 5G, China has seen faster-than-expected 5G growth and is now one of the world’s main drivers behind the rapid development of 5G and its upstream and downstream ecosystem. While continuing to promote the development of 5G, the industry had started to work on bringing 5G into a new phase: 5G-Advanced, which has become a hot topic of discussion among operators and industry partners.
5G has proved to be a breakthrough technology enabling a digital, intelligent world with ubiquitous gigabit experience and 10 billion-level connectivity. 5G-Advanced is set to further up its predecessor with a ubiquitous 10 Gbps experience and 100 billion-level connectivity, further deepening the digital, intelligent transformation. One year after 3GPP officially defined 5G-Advanced for 5G evolution, operators, equipment vendors, and industry partners have reached a consensus on the use cases, requirements, and key directions of 5G-Advanced. Release 18 will be the first release of specifications that will make this consensus a reality.
At a conference on the achievements of 5G-Advanced innovation-industry chain convergence on June 6, 2022, China Mobile unveiled its first-ever 5G-Advanced E2E industry showcases, along with Huawei and other partners, and released a white paper on new capabilities and development prospects for 5G-Advanced. China Mobile also announced new plans to promote the in-depth convergence between 5G-advanced innovation and industry chains. The white paper proposed three major directions for 5G-advanced: high-quality networks, intelligent and simplified networks, and low carbon goals, along with 10 key technologies based on the three directions.
China Unicom proposed three technical solutions for 5G-Advanced: smart new vision, smart high uplink, and smart super sensing on May 15, 2022 at its conference covering innovations and practise achievements. These technical proposals will form a crucial part of its new efforts to explore new capabilities of 5G-Advanced, including 10 Gbps downlink, Gbps uplink, and new spectrum deployments. The company also called for collaboration among industry partners to grow the size of the market at large.
China Telecom launched Super TimeFreq Folding for 5G-Advanced at a joint conference on May 10, 2022. This new solution works on the 3.5 GHz band and supports up to 100 MHz of equivalent uplink width and 1 Gbps of the uplink peak rate while reducing E2E latency for 10 ms to below 4 ms. China Telecom also shared its new plans for improvements to this solution by using the mmWave band, potentially cutting the latency even below 1 ms. This level of ultra-large capacity and high reliability will provide industry customers with better and more cost-effective solutions to accelerate digital transformation.
As the move to 5G-Advanced has become a matter of consensus, it is high time for the industry to define the key features, deployment strategies, and product directions of 5G-advanced based on operator requirements, and develop new technologies required to bring it to reality.
All stakeholders both in and outside the telecom industry chain now still need to work together on the technological, system, and business verification required to upgrade 5G to 5G-Advanced to fully harness its potential for bringing digital intelligence to all.