PARTNER CONTENT: During MWC23 Shanghai, China Unicom Global unveiled its upgraded capabilities at its global internet data centre (IDC) located on the outskirts of Hong Kong, which serves as a global cloud service convergence hub for the Asia-Pacific region and boasts multi-cloud interconnection capabilities and connections to the world’s top-ten carriers.

Dr Meng Shusen, Chairman and Chief Executive of China Unicom Global (pictured), highlighted the China Unicom (Hong Kong) Global Centre implementation is an example of how the company’s computing network integration is adding momentum to the digital economy.

She also detailed China Unicom’s diverse capabilities, covering everything from core mobile and fixed-line services to the internet of vehicles and the industrial internet, adding “big data has become one of our core competitive edges”.

Global assets
By the beginning of 2023, the operator deployed around 1.3 million 5G base stations in China, accounting for 30 per cent of global 5G sites.

In addition to its domestic mobile services, China Unicom provides a wide range of mobile capabilities abroad, including high-quality international roaming services and IoT services. It also offers international private lines and internet access through a comprehensive network of global terrestrial and submarine cable bases.

“These are the main elements in our big connection track,” Dr Meng said.

The operator also has built a comprehensive IDC system, including national, provincial, municipal and edge data centres.

Pressure from AI
Over just a few months, generative AI has swept across the consumer and business markets, creating new challenges and requirements for computing power.

Meng stating the most popular generative model ChatGPU enabled the whole world to quickly enter the era of AI. However, with this breakthrough comes three major challenges confronting providers of data centre services: big model training, green development and security.

The computing power density of global AI clusters is estimated to range from 20kW to 50kW by 2025, presenting a significant challenge for the layout and provision of data centre capabilities.

Moreover, the environmental impact of data centres is a growing concern, with carbon neutrality becoming a global mission. Citing data from an IDC forecast, she said the power consumption of data centres accounts for about 3 per cent of global energy usage, and this number may exceed 4 per cent by 2030 if current trends continue,

“As a big energy consumer, how can we use energy more efficiently? This needs to be solved through technological and scientific and innovation.”

Turning to her third point, Meng highlights the sharp rise in cyberattacks and data puts higher requirements on physical security, network security, operation security and data security of IDCs.

“These are our three major challenges and our three huge opportunities, she suggested, adding: “We are constantly trying to meet challenges and seize opportunities through digitalisation, networking and intelligence.”

She also noted that AI applications have become increasingly prevalent in people’s daily lives and are beginning to impact governments and businesses, including operators’ network support systems and security protection systems. “If we use AI capabilities well, they can bring significant benefits to all industries by generating income and increasing profits, reducing costs and improving efficiency.”

Global hub
Detailing the capabilities of China Unicom’s 37,000-square-metre global IDC, Meng noted the facility is the company’s largest network management and security management centres outside of the mainland China.

The global facility offers industry-leading low-latency of 0.2ms between the data centre and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It is integrated with its own submarine cable landing station in Tseung Kwan O and provides first-class cluster computing power for partners across all industries, she said.

In addition, China Unicom can connect to the Greater Bay Area with the capacity of 26T through its network of submarine and terrestrial cables, further expanding its reach and capabilities.

The facility has access to 2MW of power.

The data centre has also deployed an advanced cooling system that utilises chilled water intelligent and frequency conversion energy-saving technology. These technologies are combined with a special sealed hot aisle design and energy-saving UPSs to significantly reduce the facility’s energy consumption.

In terms of energy usage, she said the company realises there’s a still a lot that it can achieve to minimise its carbon footprint to achieve higher efficiency.

Looking ahead
The facility is part of China Unicom’s move from delivering traditional data centre requirements, such as hosting and virtual machines, to offering intelligent computing and network integration.

The company has plans to strengthen its big computing capabilities and promote its data centres globally.

She announced that the company plans to build additional centres outside of Greater China in the future. “Together with our customers and partners, we can explore how we can better meet their future requirements and stay ahead of the curve.”

In closing, Dr Meng highlighted China Unicom Global’s commitment to providing high-quality, one-stop computing services for all industries through global integration and capacity building. She encouraged attendees to visit the IDC’s showcase centre in Hong Kong to experience its full capabilities firsthand.