PRESS RELEASE: As 2023 drew to a close, the world witnessed 5G hitting the milestone of 1.6 billion subscriptions, with 300 operators having launched commercial 5G networks in 114 countries and regions. The total number of 5G base stations deployed worldwide exceeded 4.81 million, with a cumulative increase of 1.17 million for the year.

Meanwhile, driven by both technology evolution and increased requirements of value scenarios, 5G development is accelerating towards the new stage of 5G-Advanced. This change will broaden new horizons of 5G potential value.

ZTE aims to deliver value in three key areas of 5G-Advanced: B2C (consumer-oriented) offering enjoyable digital and smart life experiences within virtual and real worlds; B2B (business-oriented) building the digital industry in production domain; and B2X (society-oriented) solidifying the digital society via new potential economic value.

B2C: Smooth and immersive services in Asian Games

For hosting large-scale sporting events, such as the Asian Games, one of the most crucial challenges is how to use cost-effective and powerful technologies that can both guarantee high-quality surge HD services for audiences, and make more accurate and fair judgments of games.

To support the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou in 2023, ZTE 5G-Advanced solution offered the industry’s largest bandwidth and RIS (Reconfigurable Intelligent Surface) for ubiquitous signal coverage to cater to multiple 8K live-video broadcasts, XR and glass-free 3D services. The peak downlink rate reached an impressive 25Gbps, enabling up to 100,000 users to surf the internet simultaneously. After RIS deployed, the UE downlink rate was increased by six times and uplink rate by 20 times.

Walking into the badminton stadium, visitors will see twenty 4K high-definition cameras lined up in the bleacher area, while one VR camera is placed next to the net from the referee’s perspective. Every moment of a player’s game can be frozen and played back from 360 degrees, generating “bullet time”. However, the real-time processing of 4K high-definition video poses great challenges to the mobile network and computing power. With the introduction of 5G-Advanced 10Gbps network, real-time “bullet time” playback is easily realized. Audiences can see more details of the game, and the technology can also assist referees in giving fairer and more accurate judgments during games.

Additionally, other 5G-Advanced technologies enable higher efficiency in managing the event, and further boosts the economy of Hangzhou, host city of the Asian Games.

 B2B: Ultra-reliable 5G drives digital transformation in industrial productivity

Over the past few years, 5G-based digital services to vertical industries have already demonstrated significant economic and social value. In the 5G-Advanced era, digital transformation led by ultra-reliable 5G will go beyond the management domain to production domain.

Like many industrial businesses, Wuhan Iron and Steel Corporation (WISCO) find it difficult to recruit employees to work in its hot and dusty plants. Potential applicants can be further deterred by safety risks, such as those presented by falling objects and burns.

WISCO adopts ZTE’s fully connected 5G solution to enable greater digitization and automation in its smart steel factory. As the world’s largest 5G private network in the industry, the project has deployed 25 steel applications across six major scenarios spanning intelligent logistics, production control, digital equipment management, energy and environmental control, quality control, and safety management.

Two services in critical production (unmanned overhead travelling crane and molten iron transportation) have marked significant results. The connectivity removes the need to have people physically onboard the machinery. Instead, they can remotely operate the equipment with the safety and comfort of the control room. WISCO’s 5G-based digital transformation has resulted in a 19-percent increase in efficiency, 23 percent reduction in labor cost, 10-percent reduction in energy consumption, and reduction of 750,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.

Moreover, the solution is scalable to accommodate the evolving needs of industries as they expand and adapt to changing market dynamics. It empowers businesses to transform their operations, achieve higher levels of efficiency and safety, and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industrial landscape. It sets the stage for a new era of digital industrialization.

B2X: Expanding new potential business opportunities

Besides enhancing speed and coverage capability, 5G-Advanced innovates to break through the communication boundary.

For example, smart transportation is a new area of exploration for smart cities. Suzhou, a vibrant Chinese city with over five million vehicles, is leading the way in establishing a smart transportation city via the industry’s first 5G-based vehicle-road-cloud integrated V2X network, empowering autonomous driving and enhancing traffic intelligence. It provides timely driver assistance services on the vast open urban road, as well as diversified autonomous driving services in specific road areas. The system is highlighted by the utilization of existing 5G networks, rather than the traditional (more expensive) method of building a brand new V2X communication system. With 5G’s inherent large bandwidth and existing massive penetration and coverage, base station resources can also be reused, reducing deployment costs by 24% compared with traditional PC5-V2X with 20MHz bandwidth.

Vehicle-mounted 5G dual-module gateway, based on a virtual dual-band private network, enables data dual-transmission and selective-reception. It reduces network latency by 60% to 20ms with 99.99% reliability and supports up to 60Km/h autonomous driving on urban open roads. To date, a 162-kilometer road network with 5G + vehicle-road-cloud integration has been commercialized in Suzhou, with an additional 1,000 kilometers of roads scheduled for construction by 2025.

The unveiling of 5G-Advanced technologies is an exciting milestone for the possibility and potential of future communication technology development. 5G-Advanced represents more than an evolution stage from 5G to 6G in speed and connectivity; it signals a paradigm shift in the way people live, work and play. As we look forward to more practices of 5G-Advanced, we are not just anticipating new digital technologies, but also a glimpse into the future of a world powered by intelligent connectivity.