Three years ago, 5G ushered in the first year of commercial use. In three years, 175 operators around the world have begun deploying 5G. China has also handed over a beautiful 5G transcript. So far, more than 1 million base stations have been built, and the number of 5G terminals has exceeded 420 million. During this period, 5G enabled more than 6 million netizens to “cloud to the top” of Mount Everest, enjoying the magnificence and steepness of Mount Everest without leaving home. It also witnessed the speed of the construction of Huoshenshan and Leishenshan hospitals in China through 5G + cloud network technology.
It is said that “4G changes life, 5G changes society”, 5G has indeed appeared frequently in our lives, but ordinary consumers who use 5G mobile phones have not yet felt the unique experience brought by 5G. The advantages of 5G in Industrial and medical applications have not yet been realized.
Why hasn’t 5G changed society yet? Why is mmWave technology worth the wait?
5G applications break the ice, but lack the scale effect
The biggest difference between 5G and previous mobile communication technologies is that this generation of technology will no longer only connect people and people, 5G will also connect people and things, things and things, which is also the key reason why 5G can change society.
Ma Hongbing, general manager of China Unicom’s Science and Technology Innovation Department, said at the 2nd 5G Millimeter Wave Industry Summit Forum: “5G’s high speed, low latency and large connections are not obvious to ordinary consumers.5G wants to change society or empower thousands of industries, but empowerment is difficult and requires the cooperation of all parties to jointly build an ecosystem.“
In fact, 5G applications have made progress in vertical industries.Bi Qi, president of China Telecom Technology Innovation, chief expert of China Telecom, and academician of Bell Labs, shared a set of data at the forum,So far, telecommunications have more than 4,500 vertical industry applications across the country. From the distribution of projects, more than 50% are used in industrial applications, 20% are government services, and transportation and medical care each account for about 10%.
Ding Haiyu, director of the Wireless and Terminal Technology Research Institute of China Mobile Research Institute, also said, “We have built 700,000 5G base stations so far, leading the world. In the past two years, we have selected 18 industries to promote the scale of 5G. Chemical applications, including mines, ports, medical care, factories, etc., have done nearly 200 leading demonstration projects, which we call ‘sample houses’, and are promoting the implementation of more than 4,000 ‘commercial houses’.”
Obviously, 5G has broken the ice in the exploration of changing society, but the current problem is to realize the scale effect of 5G application.
Lu Qingjun, director of the Office of the National Telemedicine and internet Medicine Center and director of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital Development Office, gave a rough statistic. There are more than 23,000 hospitals above the second level in the country, and less than 800 of them have opened 5G base stations. “There are many reasons for this, including safety, performance and cost.”
“The application of 5G in the medical field is still limited to some small scenarios, and it is difficult to see irreplaceable needs at present.” Lu Qingjun further said, “I have refined 12 categories of applications that are more suitable for 5G + medical care, such as remote consultation, patient imaging and data. However, I have deliberately ruled out remote control surgery, because we have tried it on the premise of heavy protection at the huge cost of the telecommunications company. The 5G delay is only 5 milliseconds, but the delay caused by the terminal makes the whole The latency reached 256 milliseconds, which is unacceptable for doctors and very expensive.”
“Now 5G can achieve unprecedented applications, but it is not a universally applicable technology. We need to find a suitable scenario for the promotion of 5G from 1 to N, and large-scale use will form a large-scale effect.” Lu Qingjun pointed out.
Zhang Zhiqiang, senior manager of the IT Infrastructure Department/Information Security Department of Beiqi Foton Motor, shared the implementation of 5G in the industrial field. “The first project we applied 5G was quality error correction. We needed to quickly transfer high-definition photos to the cloud through the network for big data analysis and return the results, so as to find out the errors of the gluing robot as soon as possible and ensure the quality of the vehicle. In the past, It is difficult to do it with traditional networks, and working with China Unicom to use 5G can find problems faster, allowing us to see the dividends brought by 5G.”
However, in the subsequent interconnection of AGV cars in the smart park, Beiqi Foton did not use 5G, but deployed the traditional Wi-Fi method. “The primary reason is cost, followed by concerns about technology maturity and stability. Considering that after the production line is put into production, if a factory breaks a production line, it will lose millions of dollars a day, so we end up only in the periphery, Including the introduction of 5G in the security system of the factory.” Zhang Zhiqiang said.
To sum up, Ding Haiyu believes that there are four major challenges for 5G to form large-scale applications. One is that the network performance is not good enough; the second is that the cost is not low enough; the third is that the network industry collaboration is not deep enough;
Millimeter wave accelerates 5G to change the world
Si Han, President of GSMA Greater China, pointed out that 5G millimeter wave has many outstanding advantages, such as large frequency broadband capacity, easy combination with beamforming, etc., and extremely low latency. These advantages are beneficial to industrial Internet, AR, VR, cloud, etc. The development of industries such as games and real-time computing.At the same time, millimeter waves can support deployment in dense areas, perform high-precision positioning, and have a high degree of equipment integration, which is conducive to promoting the miniaturization of base stations and terminals.
Millimeter waves are electromagnetic waves with wavelengths of 1 to 10 millimeters. Xu Hao, head of Qualcomm China R&D, said: “For the communications industry, the most rare resource is spectrum. The lower the spectrum, the rarer the spectrum. The higher the spectrum, the more resources. If the millimeter wave frequency band is not used, it is impossible to reach the highest peak of 5G. rate, and it is impossible to meet the demand for data traffic.”
Liu Shuang, deputy general manager of ZTE’s RAN product market, also pointed out that due to the small wavelength of millimeter wave, the antenna can also be made very small, which can reduce the volume of millimeter wave equipment and has the advantage of easy deployment.
However, when it comes to millimeter waves, the challenges of millimeter wave coverage, only line-of-sight transmission, and high costs are mentioned. “These problems were indeed challenges for millimeter-wave applications more than 20 years ago, but now there have been great breakthroughs in radio frequency components and standards, and issues of coverage, transmission, and cost are no longer the bottleneck of millimeter-wave applications. “Xu Hao said, “There are already more than 100 5G millimeter-wave mobile phones in the world, and basically all equipment manufacturers can also provide millimeter-wave base stations. 5G millimeter-wave is already a mature commercial solution.”
A set of data can be used to illustrate the advantages of millimeter waves. Qualcomm cooperated with a US operator to deploy 5G networks using millimeter waves and Sub-6GHz. The transmission rate of millimeter wave intermediate frequency is 6 times that of Sub-6GHz and 18 times that of 4G. times. In addition to fast speed, the delay of millimeter wave is only one quarter of that of Sub-6GHz, which can meet the needs of virtual reality, industrial automatic control, etc.
“Millimeter wave and 5G have a good combination, large bandwidth, high speed, and low latency. Another feature of 5G is high reliability. Through the combination of these three points, the wired Ethernet in the factory can be replaced by wireless Ethernet. Instead, it has positive significance for the flexibility of industrial manufacturing.” Xu Hao also pointed out, “What we are talking about here is the R15 millimeter wave technology based on the first version of 5G. More millimeter wave enhancements can better support more industry applications of 5G.”
In July this year, ten national departments issued the “5G Application “Sailing” Action Plan (2021-2023)”. The notice pointed out that the key areas of 5G application include 5G + information consumption, 5G + converged media, 5G + Industrial Internet, 5G + Internet of vehicles, 5G + wisdom Logistics, 5G+smart ports, 5G+smart mining, 5G+smart power, 5G+smart oil and gas, 5G+smart agriculture, 5G+smart water conservancy, 5G+smart education, 5G+smart healthcare, 5G+cultural tourism, 5G+smart city.
“Millimeter wave is now a mature commercial solution, but not all application scenarios are suitable for using millimeter wave, just like not all scenarios are suitable for using Sub-6GHz, the most suitable scenario for using millimeter wave It’s hotspot coverage.” Xu Hao thought.
Sihan cited the latest 5G millimeter wave economic analysis report released by GSMA and pointed out that 5G millimeter wave will bring obvious cost optimization and gain to operators in high-density urban deployment and fixed wireless access scenarios. In high-density indoor scenarios, the network cost per square meter will also be reduced.
Cost is naturally the key to large-scale deployment of 5G beyond technology maturity. Yang Ning, director of OPPO’s standard research department, pointed out, “Whether the overall deployment of millimeter wave is from the network side or the terminal side, the cost of the device and the cost of the chip are still higher than that of Sub-6.”
Bi Qi looked at the cost from the stand-alone and per-bit cost, “From the perspective of the cost of a single machine, 3G to 4G, 4G to 5G, the initial cost has doubled, but its speed has increased by 10 to 20 times, making The cost per bit has dropped significantly. I think millimeter wave is the future direction of 6G evolution of the next generation of mobile communication technology.”
He also analyzed the relationship between 5G industry applications and costs. One of the biggest bottlenecks in vertical industry applications is fragmentation, which will lead to huge costs.To solve the cost challenge of 5G millimeter wave, all parties need to work together to find the commonalities and personalities of different industries, especially to abstract the commonalities, so as to achieve better cost reduction.
For the development of millimeter waves in China, the allocation of spectrum resources is also critical. Sihan said, “From the perspective of the Asia-Pacific region and the world, 26GHz is now the most popular millimeter-wave frequency band with the most deployments and licenses, and 37 to 40GHz has also been deployed or licensed in the United States and other countries and regions, the second only in the popular frequency band of 26GHz.”
Yang Ning believes, “From the perspective of the entire industry, resources are the foundation of development. If the allocation of resources is still unclear, the effect of promoting the industry will not be so significant, so we hope that the allocation of resources can be further clarified.”
Of course, the power consumption problem caused by the high speed of millimeter wave is also a problem that needs to be faced.
In any case, the development of mmWave technology will be the key to the large-scale, wider application of 5G. Sub-6 + millimeter wave, millimeter wave + satellite communication may bring more unexpected possibilities.