At the China International Information and Communication Exhibition at the end of September this year, Huawei reduced the number of applications on the 5G booth from more than ten last year to four or five.
A 5G VR online concert project was removed, and at the same time, some projects that were considered to be “inadequate potential, not representative of China’s economic characteristics, and too niche” were removed.
From proliferation to convergence, Huawei is summarizing methods for large-scale replication from hundreds of industries, and currently there are only four industries that are considered to be eligible for replication.
China Mobile also kept 360 of the thousands of projects and plans to cut some more next year.
Since the beginning of this year, 5G big players are cutting down the projects they have done, such as 5G remote surgery and 5G concerts, screening out those applications that are niche, poor in practicality and high cost, leaving few Several industries as a focus.
After two years of commercial use, China’s 5G has landed thousands of application scenarios in hundreds of industries. The big players of 5G — telecom operators and telecom equipment manufacturers agree that the current application of 5G is like a “model room”, while The next step is to create more “commercial housing” through large-scale promotion and replication.
To this end, major 5G players have sneaked into mines, ports, and steel plants, and began to build 5G base stations in more remote industries that are enough to support the national economy and people’s livelihood.
The time left for big players is tight. According to policy goals, in 2023, the penetration rate of 5G applications in large industrial enterprises will exceed 35%.
5G promotion is ushering in a critical year. After the large-scale infrastructure is implemented, the key to whether 5G industrial applications can be rolled out lies on operators and equipment vendors.
A person from China Telecom told the Economic Observer: The construction of the “model room” depends on the government’s guidance and investment, but the government’s promotion has only gone so far, which is equivalent to doing a test and advertisement for China’s 5G, and later Whether it can be profitable and whether it can be promoted on a large scale depends on the communication industry and more traditional industries.
5G project “big elimination”
Since China Telecom obtained the license, it has established project relationships with nearly 5,000 customers. Today, China Telecom Group has reserved 360 projects out of thousands of projects, and plans to cut some more next year.
The above-mentioned China Telecom people found that many pilot projects and applications are pursuing a news effect, which is not universal and popular.
For example, a 5G concert seems to be a bright spot, but dozens of people are needed to protect the network behind it, and in the end, few more tickets were sold. The use of 5G to transmit high-definition audio and online ensemble is a simple and feasible solution to the problem that musicians cannot rehearse on-site due to the epidemic.
Wen Ku, director of the Science and Technology Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has publicly stated that 5G is not for demonstration, but for use. Demonstration can be done at any cost, and costs need to be considered for use.
The pilot of 5G in medical care has also undergone a lot of screening. Lu Qingjun, director of the National Center for Telemedicine and Internet Medicine, said that since the beginning of commercial use, he has been exploring with operators and Huawei. At present, 12 categories of applications suitable for 5G have been identified, including mobile ward rounds, remote diagnosis, medical imaging, etc. .
“We didn’t include telesurgery. Although this is highly anticipated and the pilot response has been very good, this is based on the huge cost of the operator to ensure that the cost is too high and is not suitable for promotion.” Lu Qingjun said .
A Huawei person told reporters that cutting down those with insufficient potential does not represent the characteristics of China’s economy and is too niche. Some high-end manufacturing users, such as COMAC, have also adopted 5G networks, built simulation laboratories and automated inspections, which can benchmark the international manufacturing levels of Boeing and Airbus, and have been commercialized within two years. The application of these high-end manufacturing enterprises has reached the level of Industry 3.0 and 4.0, but the base in China is too small. Since then, Huawei has not allocated more resources to this.
Strategy Analytics wireless analyst Yang Guang said that China’s 5G development is greatly influenced by the national industrial policy, and it belongs to the infrastructure-first model. To make an analogy, China is to repair the road first, and then wait for the car to come. One of the problems brought about by infrastructure first is that operators still have a long climbing curve to obtain benefits from the consumer market, and they are more motivated to explore markets in other industries. However, at the beginning, the communications industry did not know where 5G could be used, so it could only cast a wide net and try every conceivable industry.
GSMA (referring to the Global System for Mobile Communications) told the Economic Observer that an important issue is that operators need to screen existing 5G application demonstration projects and carefully analyze whether there are other alternative technologies that can achieve the same or similar effects. , to analyze whether the efficiency has been greatly improved, whether the effect has been greatly improved, and whether the cost has been greatly reduced after the introduction of 5G.
Where is the real 5G
A mining farm in Bayan Obo, Baotou, Inner Mongolia, is located in a remote location with few people around, except for a few barks in the middle of the night. The facilities in the mine have hardly changed for 30 years, and several mine carts are still in operation, each with several drivers, working shifts around the clock.
Since 2019, big 5G players have moved closer. Three operators, Huawei, and ZTE have come here to build a 5G test field in one year.
Contrary to the initial imagination, two years after commercial use, 5G has been most practically applied in these areas where the demographic dividend rate first ebbs.
This mine belongs to Baotou Steel Group. A person from Baotou Iron and Steel Group said that there are 30 job indicators in the mining area, but only 3 young mining truck drivers have been recruited this year. Unmanned production.
Baotou Steel Group hopes to make an unmanned mining truck that can be remotely controlled, parked precisely, and automatically loaded and unloaded, saving some drivers in the mining area. However, in order to make the control process without delay, there must be a higher-performance network support, and 5G can just meet it.
In February of this year, Huawei first established the “Coal Corps” with a scale of more than 200 people, the largest number in government and enterprise business. Strategically, a short-chain model was adopted. These people have sunk to almost all major coal provinces.
After the consumer business was blocked, Huawei faced a lot of operating pressure, focusing on government and enterprise business, and 5G coal is an intersection of Huawei’s operator and government and enterprise business.
The above-mentioned 360 scenarios screened by China Mobile also include applications in many mining areas.
Yang Guang said that 5G has three main drivers in the world, unmanned, less humanized, lean production, and digital transformation. The Chinese market is mainly the first, and developed markets mainly demand the latter two, such as big data for the supply chain. Collection and automated follow-up of production lines are essentially lean production and flexible production. This difference in direction has gone beyond the telecommunications industry itself, and behind it is the gap in the level of informatization construction in different countries.
According to GSMA’s latest report, Global Mobility Trends 2021, telecom operators see manufacturing, finance, retail, healthcare, oil and gas, agriculture and mining as the top seven industries that will drive revenue outside of connectivity services over the next five years. At present, the progress in scenarios such as ports, mines, oil fields, and workshops is relatively smooth.
China’s 5G has also been explored in light and high-end industries.
Huawei said that in the coastal area, some light industry leaders have also tried 5G, but there are not many companies with high levels of automation, open attitudes, and excellence, and more are savage growth companies. Big factories are unfamiliar with digitization and 5G There is no clear understanding, and management still needs to make up a lot of lessons. Small factories are still coping with the impact of the larger environment and struggling to survive.
The heavy chemical industry represented by coal is different. On the one hand, they occupy an important proportion in China’s economy. On the other hand, at the time of transformation, they need to use a new generation of information technology to revitalize traditional production capacity. 5G happens at a key node of the transformation. In the use of 5G technology, a large number of leading companies in the heavy chemical industry have budgets and actual needs to support the implementation of 5G.
A Huawei official told the Economic Observer that the coal business is very profitable for communication manufacturers at present; it is dominated by large groups and the market is concentrated, which is suitable for large-scale replication from point to point. After basically determining the direction, the strategy of the provincial branches is to focus on the local pillar industries.
The critical period of large-scale landing
Yang Guang said that 2022 will be a critical year for 5G. After those “model rooms” regardless of cost disappear, the remaining projects will depend on whether they can be commercialized and replicated on a large scale.
A person from China Telecom said that for the selected applications, operators should increase the volume, and the profit of communication lies in the scale effect, but 5G is characterized by a long tail, and the 5G in the pilot is highly customized. In the next step, operators should summarize different industries and realize a set of standardized solutions. At least a combination of technologies should be formed. If customers have further needs, they will add content on the basis of the combination. If allowed, it can be made into an industrial assembly line, or even an OEM model.
GSMA said that at present, the industry needs more mature industry modules and terminals. China’s experience in developing TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE has proved that only the maturity and scale development of terminals can promote cost reduction and thus promote the prosperity of the entire industry.
Finding commonalities in differences is not an easy task. The GSMA said that it is necessary to develop corresponding standards. First, we must consider formulating corresponding standards for typical 5G application scenarios in key industries, and second, we must consider formulating corresponding standards for 5G application scenarios commonly used in various industries. Standardization is the foundation of scale, and only standardization can achieve scale.
The content is not only a technical standard, but also commercial. The above-mentioned China Telecom person said that the group has tried traffic charging, but it does not work in traditional enterprises. They prefer to buy equipment and make a one-time purchase. There are factors of concept and inertia, and the degree of acceptance of enterprises in different regions is also different. Operators themselves are not very proficient in services. In the future, they will learn from some newer companies on the Internet.
Collaboration and role change
These “underground” businesses are complex.
A Huawei person told the Economic Observer that if a closed mine wants to be transformed, it is necessary to purchase a large amount of equipment, such as ventilators, coal shearers, gas exploration and release, and belt conveying, and then network the equipment and deploy base stations. , and then integrate the equipment with the communication module, all of which should be completed before the mine. Multi-party simulation of the downhole environment, low temperature, radiation, strong wind, let the equipment adapt and operate, and finally go downhole deployment. The time to go down the mine should not be too long, because most mines are open around the clock.
Among them, the network and spectrum need to rely on operators; communication equipment needs to be customized, and how to convert customer needs into technology depends more on equipment manufacturers such as Huawei; but in terminal applications, without the cooperation of local enterprises, no one can go down the well. Often, system integrators who have served coal for a long time have underground qualifications.
The chain in the 4G era is relatively simple. Operators can purchase base stations from equipment manufacturers, build base stations, and sell packages to mobile users. The technical characteristics and application scenarios of 5G determine that its implementation requires the full cooperation of operators, equipment vendors, system integrators, and enterprise users.
From the perspective of services, operators and equipment vendors provide equipment and services for ICT products, including networks, clouds, and edge computer rooms. System integrators must provide basic hardware, including mining machines, sensors, and cameras. If there is another need, some software manufacturers should be added to provide smart mining software, operating systems, etc.
Unlike 4G, the operator is no longer the only core role, and the importance of equipment vendors and system integrators continues to increase.
A China Mobile person told reporters that during the process, operators began to feel a subtle change in their roles. The customization requirements of 5G are very high, and they need to be adjusted according to the working conditions and scenarios. It is not as good as equipment manufacturers, and even some rely on equipment manufacturers.
One phenomenon is that, after negotiating business with customers, the operator leaves after signing the contract, and the customer asks the equipment manufacturer to leave a detailed discussion alone. This detail will give the operator a sense of urgency, which has never been seen before.
Operators sell networks in the 4G era, allowing Internet and short video companies to earn traffic dividends. They are called “pipeline business” by the outside world. In the 5G era, the mobile market is saturated and industry dividends are declining. On the other hand, the number of 5G base stations in China It accounts for 70% of the world, and it is mainly the money of operators. In 2020, the capital expenditure of the three operators will exceed 300 billion yuan. Operators urgently need to make money from the 5G government and enterprise market.
Yang Guang said, however, the difference between 2B and 2C business is that it points to a long-tail market, which is fragmented and fragmented. Different vertical industries have highly customized needs, which require more flexible business, and the technical capabilities of service providers are also required. very high.