PRESS RELEASE: Recently, China Unicom Guangdong, Huawei and TD Tech jointly launched the “5G RedCap 10,000 Sites Campaign”. Until now, China Unicom Guangdong has taken the lead in deploying more than 2000 5G RedCap sites in Foshan City, supporting the rollout of massive 5G full-connected factory applications.

This is the world’s largest 5G RedCap commercial network. It is also a key milestone in enabling 5G RedCap commercialization on a large scale through industry collaboration, which will press the acceleration button for streamlining the last mile of industry digitalization with 5G.

Unicom Guangdong is Capable of RedCap Large-Scale Commercial Use

China Unicom Guangdong has mastered the key technologies of 5G RedCap large-scale commercial network deployment in wide area and local scenarios. They worked with industry partners such as TD Tech to incubate more than 20 5G RedCap modules and terminals, and successfully put them into commercial use with leading manufacturing enterprises in key fields of 5G RedCap industry applications. This year, they plan to deploy 10,000 5G RedCap sites in Foshan City, laying the solid foundation to better serve the digital transformation of the whole society.

China Unicom Guangdong Launched 5G RedCap 10,000 Sites Campaign

Foshan City is an important manufacturing base in China and even the world, which has vigorously promoted the digital and intelligent transformation of the manufacturing industry through a series of policies such as “100 Billion Yuan Investment in 3 years”, providing fertile soil for the construction of 5G full-connected factories. Currently, 5G applications in the industrial field still face challenges of high terminal costs. As a lightweight 5G technology, RedCap can reduce the cost of 5G modules by 60%, enabling massive commercial use of 5G applications into reality.

China Unicom Guangdong has deployed 5G RedCap in dozens of manufacturing factories, including the Midea, the Foshan Haitian, and the Foshan FAW-Volkswagen factory etc. The field operation results show that 5G RedCap can be used as the main bearer of medium- and high-speed IoT in industry. The 5G RedCap commercial terminal meets the requirements of massive 5G full-connected factory applications such as DTU data collection, handheld PDA, MES/SCADA device online, logistics AGV, and campus intelligent video monitoring. Core technical indicators, such as access and camping ratio of 5G cells, uplink and downlink peak rates, end-to-end user latency, 5G base station power consumption, and impact of 5G existing users, also meet the design requirements.

5G RedCap, Streamlining the Last Mile of Manufacturing Digitalization

In the early stage of 5G commercial use, people have found that 5G downsizing is necessary to meet the requirements of industry applications in large scale. To this end, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently issued the Notice on Promoting the Evolution and Innovation of 5G Lightweight (RedCap) Technology, proposing to build a complete 5G lightweight industry chain by 2025. This not only called for the large-scale commercial use of 5G lightweight (RedCap) technology, but also accelerated the streamline process of last mile of digitalization in manufacturing.

5G RedCap, Streamlining the Last Mile of Manufacturing Digitalization

It is well known that 5G defines three typical application scenarios: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-like communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) to meet differentiated requirements of different users. To meet service requirements in eMBB, mMTC, and uRLLC scenarios, 3GPP introduced 5G NR radio access technologies for the first time in Release 15 and further enhanced 5G NR technologies in Release 16. However, in some medium- and high-speed IoT application scenarios, The 5G NR technology is too complex and cannot be applied in large scale. Therefore, 3GPP Release 17 (R17) defines “Reduced Capability, RedCap” to meet requirements of medium- and high-rate IoT application scenarios. RedCap is a technology that seeks to balance performance, power, and cost. In addition to inheriting key features such as 5G NR uplink and low latency, RedCap greatly improves device costs, complexity, and power consumption.

As a lightweight 5G technology defined in 3GPP Release 17, RedCap is designed for industrial manufacturing, electric power grid, home broadband, Internet of Vehicles (IoV), and smart wearable application scenarios, achieving both cost-effective and optimized performance. It is estimated that RedCap can reduce the cost of 5G modules by 80% (the price can be reduced to US$10), reduce the power consumption of terminals by 20% compared with 4G, and increase the network capacity by more than 10 times compared with 4G. In addition, it inherits key 5G capabilities such as URLLC, network slicing, edge computing, and 5G LAN, meeting diversified network requirements in industry application scenarios. It is worth mentioning that RedCap can be introduced based on the smooth upgrade of the 5G live network without major reconstruction.

China Unicom estimates that industry, electric power, video, and Internet of Vehicles (IoV) are typical application scenarios of RedCap. This has been proved by real customer scenario verification in seven provinces, including Guangdong, Shandong, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Tianjin, Jiangsu, and Shanxi. RedCap has a huge market space. China’s three major operators from 2021 to achieve “Connected Things more than Connected People”. This year, the number of IoT connections has exceeded 2 billion, mainly 2G/3G/4G, and there is a huge room for transformation to 5G. The emergence of RedCap technology is expected to open up a broad 5G IoT market space.

U-Joy Cities in Guangdong: the Secrets of 5G Business Success

During the Global MBB Forum 2023, the 5G Industry Summit was held, which focused on the theme of “Unleashing 5G Potential for Industry Acceleration and Business Success.” In this session, Pan Guixin, Chief Innovation Officer and General Manager of Network Product Innovation center at China Unicom Guangdong gave a presentation on the latest developments of the “U-Joy Cities” program, which is a joint innovation program between China Unicom Guangdong and Huawei launched in May 2022. This program is designed to adapt 5G to the characteristics of the Greater Bay Area and cities in Guangdong, as well as build a 5G ecosystem with industry partners to drive industry digitalization.

U-Joy Cities in Guangdong: the Secrets of 5G Business Success

As Pan said, China Unicom Guangdong has the world’s largest 5G shared standalone (SA) network. This has provided Unicom Guangdong with “very good conditions” for 5G application innovation. In the Guangdong province, China Unicom has more than 147,000 5G base stations and 300 MHz 5G C-Band spectrum powering a 5G smart network. This continuous 5G coverage benefits 21 cities, and other major counties and towns. The strategy of China Unicom Guangdong is clear, and it will become a leader in digital and intelligent transformation. Now China Unicom Guangdong powers 300 5G private networks deployed for 260 key customers.

Through the “U-Joy Cities” program, China Unicom has conducted several real-life use cases with Huawei and other industry partners, including:

  • U-Joy Live Broadcasting: 5G Delivers More HD and Smoother Experience
  • U-Joy Study: 5G Promotes Equalization of Higher Education Resources
  • U-Joy at Sea: 5G Makes Fishing Safer and More Lucrative
  • U-Joy for Manufacturing: 5G Drives Digital Transformation for SMEs

In the future, China Unicom Guangdong will continue to work with industry partners to promote the “Guangdong 5G RedCap 10,000 Sites Campaign”. They will accelerate the construction of a ubiquitous 5G RedCap medium- and high-speed IoT infrastructure in terms of network, application, and ecosystem through collaborative efforts, including innovation and incubation of 5G RedCap terminals, and promotion of 5G RedCap commercial application in multiple industries. They will also work together to build a set of commercial benchmarks for 5G RedCap, flourishing the digital economy in the Greater Bay Area.