Chinese firms gain ground in 5G battle

Updated 2016-11-21 08:49:37 Global Times

Home-developed tech backed by global peers

Chinese firms have staked their claim in building global standards for the fifth generation of cellular networks (5G), analysts said over the weekend, after the Polar code the firms have promoted gained increased status last week.

Experts said it was the first time that Chinese companies have been able to make home-developed technology part of global standards for telecommunications.

During the No.87 RAN1 meeting held by 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), an international mobile telecommunications standard organization, in Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, the Polar code was defined by participants around the world as the control channel encoding scheme for the application of 5G in the eMBB (enhanced mobile broadband) scenario, according to a press release issued by the China-based IMT-2020 5G Promotion Group on Saturday.

This means that Chinese firms could gain some competitive advantages in the eMBB arena, which covers Internet access with high data rates and involves cloud storage, media applications and augmented reality for entertainment, analysts said.

Counterparts from the U.S. and EU have long been the leaders in setting network standards, which made it impossible for Chinese firms to get a bigger slice of the mobile Internet bonanza in previous generations, Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry portal, told the Global Times on Sunday.

China's race to 5G

The IMT-2020 5G Promotion Group, which was founded by China's government in 2013, is expected to make some changes in the global network standard battleground. The group reportedly consists of more than 50 firms and institutions such as Huawei Technologies Co, ZTE, the three State-owned telecom carriers and Xiaomi Inc, and the group aims to make 5G a reality for Chinese consumers by 2020.

"The success of the Polar code is a milestone for the telecommunications standards supported by China," Wang Yanhui, head of Shanghai-based Mobile China Alliances, told the Global Times Sunday.

Media outlets including China News Service reported on Saturday that the China-supported Polar code had been chosen over LDPC (Low-Density Parity-Check), which is backed by U.S. firm Qualcomm, and Turbo 2.0, which was proposed by France.

The code aims to help correct transmission errors in mobile networks and is expected to demonstrate three times the spectrum efficiency of current radio access network coding technologies.

It was first introduced in 2008 by Erdal Arikan, a Turkish professor, and was then further developed and enhanced by Chinese firms, the IMT-2020 5G Promotion Group said in the press release.

Huawei, one of the Polar code supporters and innovators, announced in October that it had achieved downlink speeds of 27 gigabytes per second by using the code.

The company refused to offer further comments on the development of its 5G technologies when contacted by the Global Times on Sunday, only referring to a press release it issued on Saturday.

"As a member of the IMT-2020 Promotion Group, Huawei will continue pumping up investment in 5G research and development together with other group members," the press release said, adding that the firm hoped to participate in setting unified global 5G standards.

Huawei is one of many firms in China to have shown their 5G ambitions. Telecom carriers in the country are also gearing up for the rollout of the next mobile network generation in 2020 by setting up innovation centers in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province.

U.S. and EU still ahead

Thanks to these efforts, the Polar code is now a crucial part of the development of 5G, but it does not mean that Chinese firms can overtake peers from the U.S. and EU and dominate the setting of standards for 5G, said Wang.

"There are still many fields that China may not be so good at," he noted.

U.S.-proposed LDPC codes, which are already widely used for Wi-Fi, were chosen for the eMBB data channel coding scheme by 3GPP on Thursday.

Qualcomm, currently the world's major provider of mobile chips, announced in mid-October that it plans to deliver the first chip for 5G networks by 2018.

And Swedish wireless network supplier Ericsson AB, which leads the EU's 5G standardization projects, has said it will deliver 5G mobile phone network components in 2017.

Market research provider estimated in March that 5G networks would generate 0 billion in annual service revenue by 2025.

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