During the Day 1 of the Huawei Global MBB Forum 2023, Telecom Review attended the 5G Industry Summit, which focused on the theme of “Unleashing 5G Potential for Industry Acceleration and Business Success.”

In a lineup of exquisite speakers, topics on policy-making, ecosystem and business were discussed. Regulators and industry leaders talked about 5G spectrum release policies to accelerate issuing spectrum licenses in emerging markets. They also shared guidance on how to expedite a positive 5G business cycle. Moreover, success stories showcased optimal experience that enables service growth and business monetization.

Included in this session is Pan Guixin, Chief Innovation Officer and General Manager of Network Product Innovation center at China Unicom Guangdong. His presentation focused on sharing the latest developments on the U-Joy Cities program, 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.

China Unicom Guangdong: Largest 5G Shared SA Network

Starting off his presentation, Pan gave an overview of how 5G innovation is implemented in the Guangdong province. Having the world’s largest 5G shared standalone (SA) network, this has provided China Unicom with “very good conditions for 5G application innovation.”

“Our strategy is clear. We will be a leader in digital and intelligent transformation. We have a community rich R&D experience in MEC slicing and 5G private networks,” Pan explained.

In the Guangdong province, there are 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.

Leading 5GtoB innovation, China Unicom Guangdong powers 300 5G private networks deployed for 260 key customers.

U-Joy Cities: Fully Unleashing 5G Value for Smart Life and Industry

Pan pointed out that Guangdong is a pioneer of China's reform and is the number one contributor in China’s GDP. China Unicom Guangdong and Huawei have implemented the U-Joy Cities project including the Guangzhou Gigabit City, Yangjiang Marine City, Foshan Manufacturing City and Shenzhen Pioneer City.

He specified various real-life use cases within the Guangdong province, and where China Unicom is positioned in these scenarios.

  • U-Joy Live Broadcasting: 5G Delivers More HD and Smoother Experience

Pan proudly stated that after research, China Unicom Guangdong is leading in 5G live broadcasting. “Live broadcast users have more than 100 gigabytes traffic per month with a slicing guaranteed, especially in the upcoming traffic.”

This year, they plan to develop another 500,000 users, following the growth of 115,000 users in the last year – this exhibits a 2-3x ARPU increase versus a normal package.

  • U-Joy Study: 5G Promotes Equalization of Higher Education Resources

Responding to the unbalanced high education environment in Guangdong, China Unicom emerged as an industry leader in 5G educational private network.

“In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, we have successfully shared high-level educational resource among 168 universities and educational institutes in Guangdong via 5G private network,” Pan remarked. Instead of using VPN, students can safely and directly access resources directly through the 5G network.

“With a high bandwidth and low latency of 5G, we also developed a new package which combines 5G private network with all our cloud computing capability, especially for the professors and the postgraduate students,” Pan added.

  • U-Joy at Sea: 5G Makes Fishing Safer and More Lucrative

Digital fishing system guarantees safety, and Pan highlighted that in Guangdong, there are 6,000 serving 5G fishing boats. These utilize location visualization, grid-based management and intelligent alarm, powered by 5G innovation with enlarged eMBB coverage.

“We have also innovated 5G network technologies such as MetaAAU and 2.1 Ghz transceivers to continually update our mobile broadband access capability. This 5G package offered to the fisherman is only 1/60th of the cost of the satellites.”

China Unicom is promoting high-quality development of Guangdong’s marine economy with 5G-requirement exploration, 5G marine coverage technology innovation and 5G application platform building.

“We are planning to extend our 5G marine coverage to the whole Guangdong province, with more than 3,000 5G sites deployed.”

  • U-Joy for Manufacturing: 5G Drives Digital Transformation for SMEs

Pan also shed light on the challenges within enterprises due to the lack of capital, tech and talent. In Guangdong, there are more than 9,000 enterprises, with SMEs accounting 95% of this total.

With its extensive efforts, China Unicom’s 5G network application and business model innovation resulted in a 40-60% increase in labor productivity; 15-25% overall equipment effectiveness; 25-25% decrease in direct manufacturing costs; and 5-8% decrease in total energy consumption.

“However, these are not enough. We have heard many enterprises complain to us that 5G terminals are too expensive, which limits the large-scale application of 5G,” said Pan. “Therefore, the 3GPP R17-compliant RedCap technical solution last year was regarded as the key last mile of manufacturing digitalization.”

5G RedCap is much cheaper in this very early stage, and “we can achieve 60-70% of the terminal cost reduction for customers.”  

Unicom Guangdong Is Capable of RedCap Large-Scale Commercial Use

Pan is affirmative that they are now ready for the large-scale commercial use of 5G RedCap. “Firstly, we have a community to experience the deployment of large-scale continuous coverage of 5G RedCap network.” They have also incubated 20+ 5G RedCap modules in the terminals with industrial partners.

Together with major enterprises such as Midea, FAW-Volkswagen, and China Southern Power Grid, they have successfully put 5G RedCap into commercial use in several fields such as AGV control and intelligent video.

“This year, we plan to deploy 10,000 5G RedCap sites to better serve the digital transformation of the whole society, including SMEs.”

In the end, Pan reiterated that U-Joy cities in Guangdong has a brighter future with 5G-A. “Now the industry is accelerating toward 5G-Advanced business, and China Unicom Guangdong is focused on the innovation of the 5G standards, network, industry and the ecosystem.”

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