Executives from China Mobile and Orange opened up on how best to deliver 5G-Advanced, a journey that aims to enable a range of services including XR and the metaverse, along with benefits for the IoT.

5G-Advanced, as part of 3GPP Release 18 in 2024, is flagged as the next milestone in the 5G era and an evolution of the latest generation of mobile technology.

During a webinar accompanying the publishing of a GSMA white paper on 5G-Advanced, Nan Hu, a vice director at China Mobile Research Institute, cited the gains made through collaboration in the operator’s deployment of standalone (SA) 5G and explained the same approach would be key to unlocking the next phase in the technology’s development.

China Mobile is developing cross-layer technology designed to cope with the demands XR will place on data rates and latency, which Nan noted will require “massive radio resource”.

The cross-layer approach essentially enables services and RAN to be aware of each other to boost capacity and reduce latency.

Nan said China Mobile is targeting a ten-time hike in capacity over current 5G networks, and latency of between 5ms and 10ms.

Another “hot topic” for 5G-Advanced will be integrated sensing and communications (ISAC). Nan cited autonomous driving as a potential beneficiary, with improved distance detection and image resolution over current systems.

Benoit Graves, head of 3GPP RAN standardisation with Orange, noted the IoT is another area operators are focusing on, with 5G-Advanced expected to deliver benefits for so-called reduced capability (red cap) devices including smartwatches, wearable medical monitors, AR/VR goggles.

Graves noted power efficiency “is a critical element for our network” and so Orange is looking to 5G-Advanced to contribute to its carbon emission and net zero goals, with the technology offering a means to optimise RAN “power performance and increase efficiency with automation”.

Each operator also discussed combining TDD and FDD networks, a move Nan said will “change the paradigm for spectrum utilisation” by suppressing interference within cells. Testing with prototypes achieved upload data rates of 1.4Gb/s with a 4ms delay, he said.