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February 15, 2022

China Mobile reaps the benefits from early investments in 5G standalone mobile core technology

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China Mobile’s 5G mobile core network investments pay off as it supports 280 million 5G users in 18 vertical industries with simplified operations and maintenance and innovative B2B and B2C services in the world’s largest mobile network.

  • Mass scale deployment experience confirms a converged standalone 5G core network architecture provides the scale, reliability, and stability to meet B2B and B2C service expectations.
  • A cloud-native standalone mobile core and a robust partner ecosystem is mandatory to fully realize the commercial and societal benefits from 5G.

This blog provides insights into key facets of China Mobile’s 5G network transition journey as it navigated through a maze of network transition models. The blog describes the operator’s decision to deploy a Standalone (SA) 5G mobile core to support complex service demands of its B2B and B2C users.

Key Technology and Business Drivers

China Mobile launched its “5G +4G” initiative in 2019 with the goal of supporting existing 4G services while aggressively pursuing 5G opportunities. China Mobile’s approach required coordination, integration, and collaboration with innovators. The operator was a key contributor to emerging 3GPP 5G standards and helped lead the industry in ongoing 5G technical standards and ecosystem evolution.

Technology Drivers

Multiple technical issues were identified that hindered commercial deployment, including the following:

Technical HurdlesSolutions
Operations and maintenance (O&M) of a multi-generational network was complex and inefficient when using separate mobile cores.Converged 5G SA core supporting all generations of mobile networks to reduce complexity.
Network reliability and stability were inadequate to satisfy B2B and B2C services with diverse requirements.Reliability design and testing to optimize network operation.
Cloud-based services increased complexity, making it nearly impossible to manually manage and control the network.Automated network O&M and analytics to  1) simplify management, 2) reduce human error, 3) achieve root cause analysis and resolution by AI.  

Business Objectives

B2C services B2B vertical market services require 5G capabilities, the table below outlines key business hurdles.

Business HurdlesSolution
B2C services such as live video streaming and VR lacked a cohesive ecosystem to bring quality and consistent services to end users.Formed alliances with OTTs and Universities to understand streaming service requirements.
Enterprises hoped to gain new business values through digital transformation; others wanted to leverage 5G to improve working conditions and attain operational efficiency.Requirements mandated the acceleration of a 5G SA core to support high reliability, low latency, and high capacity services.
B2B use cases require specific technical capabilities and domain knowledge.Worked closely with ecosystem partners in verticals, where were critical to success.

5G SA Achievements

China Mobile’s multi-pronged approach yielded significant achievements, the following table outlines key milestones.

5G Development ApproachNetwork Achievements
Coordinate 4G and 5G objectives, drive standards, expand network resources, and conduct network trials.  50,000+ 5G base stations serving 280 million 5G users.  

Launched 5G services with a three-tiered (Express, Premium, and Luxury) service model in 50 cities.  

Supports 18+ vertical industries and 4000+ B2B use cases
Leverage AI, IoT, cloud, Big Data, and edge computing to manage network operations and deliver diversified  servicesReleased its AI platform (JIUTIAN), with 42 AI capabilities. 

Support 160 million and 600+ million connections on OneNET & OneLink, its cloud storage solution platforms, respectively.  

Established a mobile cloud resource pool with 4 centralized and 45 provincial-level internet data centers.

Processed 1,100+ TB of data per day on the big data platform.  

Supported Edge cloud products and services on multiple distribution websites.  

Demonstrated live broadcast services using network slicing technologies.
  Drove a robust 5G ecosystem via alliances and investments in testing facilities and education.    25 labs servicing 500+ vertical industry partners.  

Device alliances with 110+ partners, covering devices, chips, applications, and solutions.  

Digital Alliance with 100+ partners, showcased 1,000+ product promotion events.  
Vertical alliances in education, IIoT, video, energy, agricultural and precise positioning.  
Commercialized multiple 5G applications and actively promotes new use cases  4K/8K live broadcasting, offering 30+ applications.  

50+ demonstrations applications, many first in their respective industries

Conclusion

In August 2021, the 5G SA live network testing verified that the network architecture and implementation met carrier-class network security and reliability requirements. The accomplishments noted in the 5G journey can be traced back to decisions to embrace 5G technologies, influence standards and establish a strong partner ecosystem to drive innovation.

China Mobile continues to promote and deliver new B2C and B2B services, driven by its 5G network technologies, engagements in 5G standards, and alliances with vendors and ecosystem partners.

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