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5G-Advanced: Unfolding a New Journey for a Boundless Digital Future

2024-02-28 10:32:00| Source:Rcrwireless

2024 is being recognized as the inaugural year of the evolution of 5G-Advanced. In the coming years, 5G-Advanced is poised to flourish, unlocking further potential and laying the foundation for the future development of 6G. Li Xiaotong, Vice President of ZTE Corporation, elaborates on ZTE’s “hexagonal” model for the new horizons of 5G-Advanced, highlighting how it brings significant benefits to digital life, digital industry, and digital society. This transformative technology is reshaping the boundless digital future.

5G has become an integral part of our daily lives around the world. Over 1.9 billion users are connected through 302 deployed 5G networks globally. 5G is also empowering the industry digital transformation. In China, 29,000 5G private networks have been built to support and enhance various industries.

Despite the notable achievements made, there are more new scenarios and new services requiring technology evolution. This is precisely why 5G-Advanced is gaining momentum, as it holds the promise of unlocking additional potential and laying the groundwork for the future development of 6G.

So as 5G-Advanced serves as the “next step” of 5G evolution, what kinds of enhancements will it bring? What new technologies will it introduce? How will it transform our digital lives, empower digital industry, and reshape the future digital society? 

The “hexagonal” model of 5G-Advanced

From ZTE’s perspective, 5G-Advanced will technically expand 5G application scenarios from the original “triangle” framework to a new “hexagonal” model.

Firstly, 5G-Advanced, as an evolution of 5G, not only inherits but also enhances the three original 5G scenarios. In terms of eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), 5G-Advanced achieves a seamless data rate of up to 10 gigabits per second, significantly surpassing the previous gigabit-per-second capabilities. For mMTC (Massive Machine-Type Communications), 5G-Advanced enables connectivity for trillions of concurrent device links, expanding the scope from billions. In the case of uRLLC (Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications), 5G-Advanced ensures network with improved deterministic capability, reducing it from 20 milliseconds at a 99.99% reliability level to just 1 millisecond at a 99.999% reliability level. Furthermore, 5G-Advanced introduces three innovative new application scenarios: integrated sensing & communication, universal intelligence, and ubiquitous connectivity.

ZTE anticipates that through optimization and expansion across the six application scenarios, 5G-Advanced will unlock tremendous value in key domains such as B2C (Digital Life), B2B (Digital Industry) and B2X (Digital Society).

For Digital Life, 5G-Advanced’s 10Gbps capacity will enhance the consumer experience through intelligent living applications such as 8K video, glasses-free 3D content, immersive VR/AR experiences. These services will blur the line between the physical and digital worlds, providing users with unprecedented levels of engagement and entertainment. For Digital Industry, 5G-Advanced’s deterministic capability and the industrial field network solution will deeply facilitate critical production sectors, enable flexible manufacturing and lead to improved efficiency and cost savings for industry partners. For Digital Society, 5G-Advanced is expected to explore new opportunities in areas such as connected vehicles, connected drones, and direct satellite access via smart phones to bridge the digital divide and contributing to a more inclusive and connected future.

Booming new services for digital life

In terms of digital life, the upgrading user experience, evolving capabilities, and new services like AIGC will generate a massive market of tens of trillions, bringing revolutionary opportunities for digital economic growth. Meanwhile, the prevailing of new services also pose new challenges to 5G networks, including a ten-fold increase in network capacity and guaranteed experience.

ZTE offers a range of 5G-Advanced products and solutions to support various application scenarios and has achieved significant success in implementing these solutions. 

For FWA scenario, the mmWave AAU support 1.6GHz ultra-wide bandwidth to provide 28Gbps throughput, a ten-fold speed increase over current FWA user experiences.

For metro scenario, the innovative 5G-in-train-metro system is to deploy 5G micro-stations (QCell) on fast moving carriages and mmWave AAU in tunnels. The system has been commercially deployed on Shanghai Metro Line 4, with the wireless backhaul reaching 15Gbps for the downlink, bringing a ten-fold improvement to metro passengers’ experiences, while greatly shortening metro network construction periods.

For XR scenario, ZTE can realize cloud-based rendering and wireless transferring based on 5G-Advanced 10Gbps networks to provide users better experiences. Recently, ZTE has verified large-scale XR competitive gaming for multiple players in a 1000-square-meter large space using mmWave distributed micro-cell ( ZTE MiCell solution) , realizing VR backpack-free experiences with 60ms E2E service latency.

For media broadcasting scenario, ZTE has launched a “5G-Advanced Ultra HD wireless live broadcast” solution applying MiCell and portable CampSite with edge computing capability for the 2024 Lunar New Year Gala. Based on 5G-Advanced technology, wireless camera positions can flexibly and precisely track highlights on stage, realizing seamless switching between wired and wireless camera positions.

Deterministic network for digital industry

Industry empowerment has always been an important mission of 5G. Over the past years, 5G has been widely applied across various industries and sectors. 5G-Advanced can provide deterministic network with lower latency, higher reliability and lower jitter, facilitating the deep dive of digital transformation in industries from non-critical to critical production fields.

By building independent and controllable 5G-Advanced private networks, enterprises can ensure production data security and deep integration with their IT/OT systems. ZTE has launched the all-in-one ultra-highly integrated private network product Uni-Engine, which integrates all 5G network elements and edge computing infrastructure in one box, shielding the complexity of traditional wireless networks and allowing industries to conveniently manage and maintain networks in one stop.

Working with operators and industry partners, ZTE has conducted practices of 5G applications in critical production fields across multiple industries. At ZTE’s Nanjing Binjiang factory, over 110 5G+ industrial integration innovation applications were built, significantly improving production efficiency and realizing “manufacturing 5G with 5G”.

In Guangzhou Minotech, ZTE provided “native” 5G on-site network solutions for end customers by pre-integrating 5G modulesproduction equipment, enabling hourly private network deployment and one-stop cloud-network services. In Wuhan Iron and Steel Cooperation (WISCO), by building 5G fully-connected smart steel factory, several key steelmaking process such as Molten iron transportation, overhead travelling crane and production control have been upgrade., reducing task operation time by 75%.

To meet the broad demands of low-to-medium-speed massive IoT, ZTE has launched the RedCap+X solution to provide customized and cost-effective 5G connectivity services across industries. For smart grid applications, RedCap plus network slicing can achieve isolation of services, RedCap plus uRLLC and ZTE NodeEngine edge computing solution ensure low-latency guarantees for control services, providing an economical, reliable and efficient 5G network.

Currently, ZTE has completed pilot projects of typical RedCap application scenarios in industries such as manufacturing, power grid and video monitoring with various partners, and deployed over 20,000 RedCap commercial sites across China. RedCap will continue to evolve during the 5G-Advanced phase to facilitate the arrival of the era of everything connected.

Boundless future of digital society

On the ground, 5G-Advanced can connect vehicles to roadside infrastructure, making our vehicles smarter and safer. ZTE’s 5G-Advanced powered V2X solution, with vehicle-road-network-cloud integration enables cost efficient autonomous driving and transportation efficiency improvement. In Suzhou, China, the solution has been deployed offering L4 autonomous driving services for L2 vehicles, and more than 1,000 intelligent vehicles connected to the cloud control platform for real time supervision, including RoboBus, RoboTaxi, unmanned cleaning, etc.

Low altitude extends the business boundary of 5G networks from terrestrial space to airspace. 5G-Advanced infrastructure provides the integration of communication and computation for a wide range of low-altitude applications such as UAV logistics and delivery, power line inspection and emergency rescue. The low altitude economy is supported with continuous and stable network coverage for supreme performance, and the computation capability on 5G base station can be opened to 3rd party for UAV control platform deployment at the edge.

5G Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) will bring forth a new era of “consumer-level” satellite internet, enabling wide-area connectivity for interactions between humans, things, and vehicles. ZTE has launched the NTN ground base station and has successfully completed the industry’s first IoT-NTN verification for maritime coverage in Zhoushan, China. And we are currently conducting field tests for NR-NTN to further validate its capabilities and performance. 

“Standing at the beginning of 2024, we are filled with anticipation and motivation,” said Li Xiaotong. “This year marks the advent of 5G-Advanced, signaling the start of a new era and an exciting journey ahead of us.” ZTE remains resolute in its commitment as a “Driver of Digital Economy” by reinforcing its foundations through innovation-driven development, fostering open collaboration, and establishing partnerships with various industries. These efforts will propel the second phase of 5G and lay a solid groundwork for the future of 6G, enabling us to create an unlimited future together.