The latest report from GSA shows that 81 commercial 5G networks have been launched across the globe. China resumed and accelerated its 5G network construction after a hiatus imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country has seen some standalone 5G networks put into commercial deployment, with more than 600,000 5G base stations installed and over 150 million 5G terminals connected. With its 5G connections accounting for 70% of the worldwide total, China is the leader in the global 5G race. It is forecasted that the number of 5G public users in China will exceed 800 million by 2025.
Networks are the foundation of smart homes. To facilitate the rollout of smart homes, China's three major operators are making numerous moves on gigabit network deployment. After ushering in the gigabit era of fixed broadband (FBB), China also started to offer gigabit mobile services in 2019 with the launch of 5G networks. Its three operators began building Wi-Fi 6 networks and initiated the “FBB+5G+WiFi” strategy in 2020. Due to the combination of wired and wireless technologies, home connections will be faster in the future, and whole-home wireless connectivity will be a possible trend. 5G is better suited to outdoor space and mobile objects, while Wi-Fi 6 is more used in smart home scenarios. The two technologies are highly complementary.
As a global leading provider of ICT solutions, ZTE continues to build core competencies around technology leadership, improve operational efficiency based on digital transformation, and enhance core competitiveness through innovation. It offers rich services for gigabit application scenarios, focusing on sectors like video, industry, education and security. ZTE will work closely with operators worldwide to support their efforts to expand into the new 5G-to-business (5G-2B) segment.
Real-Time and Immersive Audio-Visual Entertainment
The installed base of smart TVs in China exceeded 280 million units in 2020. A large-screen TV has become an important product for any operator who wants to develop at least one hundred million home users. Operators hope that such a massive user base can lay a foundation for their value- and scale-based operations. As the hub for users to experience smart home services, the large-screen TV has attracted much attention from operators as they seek to develop home business.
High-definition (HD) video centers incubate new technologies, application, models, industries, and consumption habits for 5G videos including 4K/8K ultra high definition (UHD) video, interactive video, and extended reality (XR) video. Through the smart TV, the video centers can bring users a brand-new immersive audio visual experience. For interactive entertainment centers, operators will focus on creating vertical applications of music, gaming, education and health. For example, they will set up three product portfolios—fitness tracking, health monitoring and family healthcare in the smart screen-centered health sector. By using interactive accessories like health monitoring and fitness tracking devices to empower the smart screen, they can build a unified health data platform and establish an open family health ecosystem.
Improving the user experience of cloud gaming requires multiple technologies, including ultra-high density computing power, audio/visual decoding latency reduction, and even massive connections by edge computing, but the key is the bandwidth support of mobile networks. The rollout of 5G has also led to an explosion growth of cloud gaming. In addition to removing restrictions on how games are published, cloud gaming can also help combat illegal gaming industry chains and enhance big data mining and analytics.
Cost-Efficient Smart Project
ZTE, in partnership with China Telecom, is working with the Yantian Port of Shenzhen in China to leverage 5G+HD technologies to implement remote control of shore/gantry cranes and remote driving of container trucks. The project is expected to enhance the overall operational efficiency of the port by around 30%.
In another project, ZTE are collaborating with China Unicom and Baosteel Zhanjiang on a “smart steel” initiative where machines imitate humans to conduct “vision + cognition” work. The project aims to realize unmanned operations in scenarios such as air-ground inspection and machine visual monitoring of bridge cranes and steel belts. It is estimated that the overall production cost can be reduced by roughly 20%.
Convenient and Efficient Education
5G will spur a drastic change in how education is delivered, with smart education set to become a major 5G application. Virtual reality (VR)- and augmented reality (AR)-based learning is a main element of 5G smart education. VR/AR can create an interactive, personalized and immersive classroom experience that keeps students more engaged and helps them learn faster.
5G remote learning is a key link in the “last mile” of smart education. It enables various forms of student-centered interactive education, thereby stimulating interest in learning, improving teaching quality, and promoting the fulfillment of educational objectives. China Mobile recently held a 5G applications launch event titled “Empowering Industries and Serving Shaanxi” in Xi'an to advance the information-oriented, smart transformation of industries in Shaanxi province and to promote the deep integration of 5G networks and applications. At the event, ZTE debuted its online interactive education products for the first time, which were a range of innovative applications incubated via a 5G integrated video platform jointly created by ZTE and China Mobile Shaanxi. The debut attracted widespread attention from the public.
Based on the 5G integrated video platform, ZTE and China Mobile Shaanxi are enabling industrial applications for scenarios including online education, smart cultural tourism, and smart venues through capability convergence, technology iteration, and model innovation. The 5G platform has empowered the culture, education and sports sectors of the province, assisting China Mobile Shaanxi in rolling out 5G big videos in vertical industries.
Secure and Reliable Protection
As people's security awareness increases, home security system has become another major application of smart home besides audio-visual entertainment and has also caused operators to jostle for the market. In this sector, China Mobile ranks among the top three providers in China for its large user base, and one of its priorities in 2020 is to expand home security services. China Telecom and China Unicom have also launched products called “eSurfing Homecare” and “Wo HomeEye” respectively, which allow users to monitor their homes dynamically and in real time.
The scope of smart home is expanding to encompass smart community, safe village, and other applications. This opens up possibilities to expand the target users of smart home services and applications from homes to industries. Security protection can be planned for neighborhood intelligentization or even wider domains. Applications like home security, neighborhood access control, parking management, and community security will be highly integrated into a unified platform.