Chinese firms push forward 5G application in industries, epidemic control
Published: Sep 01, 2021 08:03 PM
The 2021 World 5G Convention in Beijing on September 1, 2021 Photo: Tao Mingyang/GT

The 2021 World 5G Convention in Beijing on September 1, 2021 Photo: Tao Mingyang/GT

While many countries around the world are still trying to accelerate their research and development of 5G technologies, Chinese companies are already pushing forward 5G application in a growing list of industries and scenarios such as epidemic prevention and control - a trend that was on vivid display at the 2021 World 5G Convention on Wednesday.

At the major industry event, Chinese telecom giants, including Huawei and China Mobile, exhibited their cutting-edge applications of 5G technologies for industries such as manufacturing and mining as well as for the country's battle against the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Huawei introduced a solution that combines 5G technologies with edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, to create unmanned open-case mines. The solution provides various functions including remote control of mining equipment and trucks' autopilots, which can help minimize the number of human operators.

China Telecom, one of the top three Chinese telecom giants, also showed its cooperation with domestic industrial machinery provider Sany Group to build an AI-backed intelligent factory that's fully connected with a 5G network. 

At China Telecom's booth, a staff member told the Global Times on Wednesday that the 5G network can address data security concerns, while the AI system can also analyze complex production procedures to improve efficiency.

These cases are vivid examples of China's achievements in the application of 5G technologies to real industries. On Tuesday, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing said that China's 5G application cases have exceeded 10,000, covering key industries such as steel, electricity and mining.

Experts also said that China has topped the world in terms of 5G applications for manufacturing, although the penetration of 5G into real industries is still at an early stage.

"China was a follower in the 3G era and a side-by-side runner in the 4G era. It is now a leader in the 5G era, whether in terms of applications or other related areas," an industry insider surnamed Liu told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that 5G-powered equipment such as excavators can reach places where human-controlled ones can't. 

"Overall, 5G can largely enhance the efficiency of manufacturing and reduce companies' costs, although it's hard to quantify the added value it brings to traditional industries. It also broadens the scale of industrial products that can be made, like those used for dangerous situations," he said.

But Liu stressed that many companies still have concerns about purchasing 5G solutions, which often cost tens of millions of yuan. "They are hesitant about the incremental costs compared with the 4G solutions, while some are waiting for 5G technologies to mature further," he said.

Another focus of domestic companies is the use of 5G technology in fighting the COVID-19 epidemic.

China Mobile, for example, displayed its big data analysis based on 5G technology, which can precisely track population movements via people's mobile phone signals.

"China Mobile SIM cards usually conduct an information interaction every 15 seconds with the nearest base station, which could track the mobile phone user's location," a staff member of China Mobile told the Global Times on Wednesday, adding that the location tracking function played an important role in the early stages of the battle against the COVID-19.