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Co-construction and sharing into "key words" for 5G construction

来源:经济日报 经济日报·中国经济网记者黄鑫 October 24, 2019 10:56 Source: Economic Daily Economic Daily China reporter Huang Xin

The picture shows the 5G technology-based remote driving system displayed on the scene of the Internet Light Expo at the 6th Internet Conference. Photo by Xinhua News Agency reporter Xu Yu

As the 5G package is about to be unveiled at the end of October, the four companies that have obtained licenses are also moving faster and faster in 5G commercial construction. The 5G network construction opportunities and challenges coexist. In the face of increasing initial construction and operation and maintenance costs, joint construction and sharing have become common choices for all companies.

China Unicom recently announced that it plans to establish a 5G innovation master fund led by Unicom, with a total size of 10 billion yuan, a long duration and a wide coverage, for investment in multiple 5G technology applications such as smart home, smart medical care, and smart manufacturing. Obviously, 5G investment is still overweight.

It is understood that the 5G packages that everyone cares about will be seen at the end of October, and the progress of 5G commercial network construction has become more concerned. In September, China Telecom and China Unicom announced that they will jointly build and share 5G networks. It is reported that China Mobile is also likely to launch 5G cooperation with China Radio and Television. Co-construction and sharing are becoming the key words of 5G construction.

How is 5G construction progressing? What difficulties did you encounter? Will co-construction and sharing cause a decline in service quality? In this regard, the reporter of the Economic Daily interviewed many experts in the industry.

Network construction is still in its infancy

2019 is the first year of 5G commercial use. According to Wang Zhiqin, deputy director of the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology, as of July this year, 36 operating companies in 26 countries around the world began to provide 5G services. However, the actual scale and development of actual network construction is still in the very initial stage. In the first half of this year, the global 5G base station shipments were 450,000, of which 80,000 were in South Korea, and China has about 50,000 to 60,000 under construction.

"On June 6, this year, China issued a 5G license to allow operating companies to start 5G network construction. It is estimated that it will take about 9 months for the network construction to be routine. Each network can provide 5G commercial applications when the network is complete to a certain degree. . Therefore, the issuance of licenses is the starting gun for commercial network construction. "Wang Zhiqin said.

At present, operating companies have successively released 5G brands and plans. "China Mobile's 5G construction started early and has a large investment." Huang Yuhong, deputy director of the China Mobile Research Institute, said that in terms of investment, China Mobile has specified that it will build more than 50,000 base stations in more than 50 cities in 2019. As of the end of September, China Mobile had already built 36,000 base stations in more than 50 cities, and had already opened.

Changjiang Zhifeng, Vice President of China Telecom Beijing Research Institute, said that this year China Telecom plans to launch a hybrid network of non-independent networking and independent networking in 50 cities, building 40,000 base stations, and focusing on the market and customers. . China Telecom strives to implement network upgrades for independent networking in 2020, opening up differentiated network content such as edge computing and network slicing based on independent networking. At present, China Telecom has established a 5G R & D center.

"In April of this year, China Unicom released a 7G + 33 + N 5G strategy, that is, 5G coverage in 7 large and medium-sized cities, 5G urban hotspot coverage in 33 cities, and active construction of 5G specialists in N vertical industries. At present, China Unicom has built more than 100 private networks and continues to promote them. In 2019, China Unicom plans to build 40,000 5G base stations in more than 40 cities. It is expected to enter a large-scale 5G use period next year. "China Unicom Yan Binfeng, director of the technical committee of the institute, said.

Wang Zhiqin said that in general, the three major operators will achieve full 5G coverage in 10 large cities this year, and then achieve limited hotspot coverage in about 30 to 40 cities. This kind of urban network coverage is more to cultivate markets and applications. .

Costs force co-construction and sharing

"5G network construction opportunities and challenges coexist. The main problem is that the initial cost of 5G construction and operation and maintenance has increased." Wang Zhiqin analyzed. First of all, from the perspective of frequency and coverage scenarios, the number of 5G base stations will increase significantly. Second, the large bandwidth of 5G will also increase costs, such as base station costs and power consumption issues. Initially, 5G will consume about twice as much power as 4G. However, with large-scale production, there will be room for further improvements in cost and power consumption.

Therefore, network sharing has become one of the countermeasures of some enterprises. At present, network sharing basically uses two methods, one is infrastructure sharing, such as passive device sharing made by Tower Corporation; the other is communication equipment sharing, such as the cooperation between China Unicom and Telecom.

According to Dou Yan, the dean of the China Tower Research Institute, from the current overall situation of 5G construction, more than 97% of the base stations of the China Tower are implemented using existing sites, which greatly saves costs. At the same time, in order to further support the industry's low-cost and high-efficiency 5G construction, China Tower also carried out a series of work in terms of site resource reserves, iron towers, and power supplies.

In terms of site resource reserves, China Tower has 10 million-level site resources. It can be quickly transformed to meet the needs of 5G construction, including 8.75 million street light poles, monitoring poles, more than 3.5 million power pole towers, and 330,000 buildings. Property building.

In terms of towers, China Tower has further increased the capacity of 1.954 million existing towers and carried out a series of communications tower innovations, such as reducing the amount of steel for new towers, reducing the cost of new towers, and activating the capacity of existing towers.

"At present, China's 5G construction is still in its infancy, and the complexity of 5G technology is much higher than 4G, and the investment in new construction is huge. Therefore, China Mobile has proposed the" 5G + "plan, focusing on 5G and 4G collaboration, and also wants to make full use of the existing Sites and other resources can reduce the investment in 5G construction as much as possible, and give play to the synergy between the two networks. "Huang Yuhong said.

Ma Yuan, director of the Small and Medium Enterprise Office of the Development Research Center of the State Council, believes that the benefits of co-construction and sharing on the Internet are fourfold. The first is to reduce site costs. In order to improve the network coverage effect, if operators compete for the site, it will increase the cost. Through the co-construction and sharing of infrastructure, some costs can be shared, while reducing the need for some sites. Second, from the perspective of new 5G network technologies, such as the application of network slicing, sharing is more feasible. Third, the competition in the past 2G, 3G, and 4G eras was based on network competition. The network is very important for the competition of operators. However, in the 5G era, business innovation has become the core point of competition, and the importance of the network has decreased. Investment should be shifted from the network to business and service innovation. Fourth, it can reduce consumption, radiation and other issues, and bring greater social benefits.

Total investment will not decrease

Network co-construction and sharing does not mean less investment. In this regard, Jiang Zhifeng said, "At present, the co-construction and sharing discussed by Telecom and China Unicom is limited to wireless base station access, and the interconnected core systems are still independent of each other. The goal now is to achieve capital savings by sharing physical equipment, not to reduce investment. The entire 5G investment includes investments in related platforms, resource systems and application systems in addition to network construction investments. These investments need to be more evenly distributed, and the overall 5G investment will not decrease. "

However, co-construction and sharing are not so easy. Wang Zhiqin admits that the difficulty and challenge of communication equipment sharing is that to meet the needs of two operating companies, wireless networks require the two operating companies to coordinate on many technical routes. At the network management level, only one operator in a region can manage, and the other operator can observe but cannot implement base station parameter adjustment. Due to the use of a network to meet the quality needs of the operating companies, the two operating companies must strengthen communication and coordination in the actual operation process. In addition, from the perspective of the country and industry, when the network of competitors is reduced, the competition pressure in the entire market will be reduced.

"After 5G co-construction and sharing, the base station will be called by two, and coordination problems will inevitably arise. We must establish management procedures internally to optimize the coordination and communication mechanism through agreement constraints." Jiang Zhifeng said.

Regarding co-construction and sharing, Dou Yi suggested that, first, we should further promote the open sharing of public infrastructure and social resources, incorporate mobile broadband infrastructure and resources into the building communication facility building specifications, form mandatory standards, and include acceptance checks.

Second, it is recommended to further increase the sharing construction of 5G rooms. According to statistics, 70% of applications in 4G services occur indoors, and it is expected that more than 85% of 5G services will occur in indoor scenarios. However, 5G room division construction faces two major difficulties. One is that the construction scale is large and the investment is high. It is expected that 5G room division investment will account for 30% to 40% of 5G investment. The second is that it is more difficult to coordinate the implementation of admission, especially 5G. Room division is more difficult to implement in the existing scenes covered by 2G, 3G, and 4G.

(Responsible editor: Peng Jinmei)