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Starting China’s 5G base station process: Industry enthusiasm is high, why are operators not too slow?

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Editor’s Note: This article is from WeChat public account “Tencent Deep Network” (ID: qqshenwang), author Ma Guanxia. 36氪 authorized to reprint. About 35 kilometers northwest of Tiananmen Square, on the Wenyang Road near Beijing’s West Sixth Ring Road, unmanned test vehicles frequently pass. Although like the driverless industry driving into the trough, these test cars with communication devices on the roof seem to have not changed much from a few years ago, but the communication methods used by these vehicles already have Great progress: from 4G to 5G. The communication signal of the driverless test vehicle is derived from the 5G base station on the roadside. In March 2018, Wenyang Road was transformed into the first batch of self-driving vehicle test roads by the Beijing Municipal Traffic Management Bureau. Shortly thereafter, the first 5G communication base station in Beijing, Daoxianghu Station, was also first opened on Wenyang Road. At present, nearly 20 5G base stations have been installed on the unmanned test section of Wenyang Road and the surrounding less than 10 kilometers. These dense 5G base stations also provide guarantee for the test of unmanned test vehicles. The demand for unmanned 5G base stations also reflects the current industry’s urgency for 5G commercial use. In 2019, known as the 5G commercial year, industry companies, including driverless manufacturers, major mobile phone brands, and communications equipment manufacturers, are eager to launch their own 5G products or solutions, and vow to themselves. There is much to be done in the 5G era. However, compared to the high industry enthusiasm, operators as 5G network builders are not slow. In terms of 5G investment, at the beginning of the year, the three major operators all said that they will decide whether to expand investment next year based on the results of this year’s 5G scale test. According to the plan, the total investment of 5G of China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in 2019 is about 31 billion yuan, far lower than the investment of 4G and 3G commercial first year. Although the issuance of 5G commercial licenses has accelerated the release of the 5G dividend, from the latest attitude of the three major operators, at present, the domestic 5G network construction is still slowly and orderly. The 5G network construction is slightly slow. On the one hand, there are three major operators’ overall performance decline and the 5G commercial prospects are still unclear. On the other hand, the challenges of building 5G network core 5G base stations themselves are also the three major operators. The main reason for the failure to fully release the deployment. Where is the challenge of building a 5G base station for a driverless car on the Wenyang Road test? At the 2019 Shanghai Mobile World Congress held on June 26, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom announced the latest developments in 5G network construction and layout. Yang Jie, Chairman of China Mobile, announced that China Mobile will build more than 50,000 5G base stations nationwide in 2019 and implement 5G commercial services in more than 50 cities. In 2020, it will further expand its network coverage to all grades in the country. The above urban areas provide 5G commercial services. Ke Ruiwen, chairman of China Telecom, said that in the initial stage of 5G construction, China Telecom will build a network of NSA/SA hybrid networks in 40 cities across the country to provide 5G services. At the same time, it will strive to launch the 5G SA network in 2020. Li Guohua, general manager of China Unicom, revealed that Unicom will build a 5G test network in 40 cities this year to build various industry application scenarios. Combined with the latest statements of the three major operators, the industry generally expects that the three major operators will build 100,000 to 150,000 5G base stations nationwide in 2019. From the perspective of the city, up to now, cities that have announced the completion of more than 10,000 5G base stations by the end of this year are Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu. Considering that in the earliest 5G commercial South Korea, more than 50,000 5G base stations have been built around Seoul alone, and full coverage of 5G signals is still not possible. The 10,000 base stations are far from meeting the normal 5G commercial use of the above cities. The many challenges faced by the 5G base station construction itself are the important reasons why the three major operators have not fully liberalized the deployment of 5G networks. Compared with the 4G network, the design indicators and performance of the 5G communication system have been greatly improved. The single-station processing capability of the 5G base station equipment has been increased by several dozen times compared with the 4G base station, which naturally increases the difficulty of constructing the 5G base station. 5G base stations use high-frequency frequency band electromagnetic wave communication. A remarkable feature of electromagnetic waves is that the higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength and the greater the attenuation in the propagation medium.Compared with 4G base stations, the transmission distance of 5G base stations is greatly shortened, and the coverage capability is also greatly reduced. The number of 5G base stations required to cover the same area will greatly exceed that of 4G base stations. According to the Chinese Academy of Engineering academician He Hezhen, the number of base stations required for 5G networking will be 4 to 5 times that of 4G. The increase in demand for base stations means that operators need to pay more to the communication equipment vendors, and on the other hand, operators need to pay higher operating costs after the base station is built. Take the electricity bill, which accounts for 15% of the total operating cost of the operator, as an example. According to “Deep Network”, in mobile communication networks, energy consumption is mainly concentrated in the base station, transmission, power supply and computer room air conditioning. Among them, the base station is the main source of energy consumption of the entire mobile communication network, accounting for more than 80% of the total network energy consumption. In the base station, the AAU (active antenna unit), the heat dissipation system, and the like consume a large amount of power, and the power consumption of the BBU (the baseband unit responsible for processing the calculation) is relatively small. The power consumption of 5G base stations varies from vendor to vendor, but overall there is a different degree of increase compared to 4G base stations. An industry insider revealed to Shennet that the power consumption of 5G base stations may reach three times that of 4G base stations. According to research firm EJL Wireless Research, 5G base station energy consumption increased, partly due to the introduction of Massive MIMO (multi-antenna technology), 4G base station mainly adopts 4T4R MIMO, and 5G base station adopts 64T64R MIMO, which increases the total power consumption of the base station. . More base stations and higher power consumption will lead to an exponential increase in operators’ electricity bills. Moreover, due to the high energy consumption of 5G base stations, operators will face new problems such as the need to re-power the base stations during the construction process. In addition, the construction of 5G base stations is also facing the problem of other supporting facilities renovation. In the 5G era, the anchored antenna on the base station (the unit responsible for the conversion between the conducting wave on the cable and the spatial wave in the air) and the RRU (the unit responsible for the RF processing) are integrated into an AAU (Active Antenna Unit). The slender type of 2G, 3G, and 4G devices have become chunky 5G devices, and the weight of 5G devices is heavier than that of 4G devices. According to “Deep Network”, we learned from Huawei’s 5G showroom in Beijing R&D headquarters that Huawei’s 5G equipment weighs about 40 kilograms. If three devices are required for each base station and three devices are installed, then each 5G base station needs to bear more than 360 kilograms, which brings challenges to some existing base station facilities. Huawei 5G base station equipment 5G base station construction Aiming to reduce costs The International Organization for Standardization 3GPP defines 5G three application scenarios including eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communication) and uRLLC (Super Reliable Low Delay). For the deployment architecture of the 5G network, 3GPP defines two standard options: non-independent networking (NSA) and independent networking (SA). The NSA can only support the eMBB service scenario, and the SA can support the services of mMTC and uRLLC. Scenes. The industry consensus on the future of SA/NAS is that SA is the future. Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, told the media that in the future, about 20% of 5G facilities will be used for communication between people (eMBB scene), and 80% for communication between things and things, between people and people. , that is, the Internet of Things, such as future driverless cars (mMTC and uRLLC scenarios). In other words, SA has a larger commercial imagination. However, mainly due to cost reasons, operators will mainly focus on the NSA in the initial stage of 5G base station construction. The relevant person in charge of Huawei’s 5G product line recently told Deepnet that “NSA is not a necessary stage for 5G. Operators can choose to deploy SA from the beginning. However, NSA can use the original 4G core network to control the initial investment of 5G. Therefore, many operators initially choose to deploy 5G in the NSA mode. The 5G NSA can be directly upgraded from the original 4G base station. According to public data, by the end of 2018, the total number of 4G base stations of the three major operators exceeded 3.72 million, of which China Mobile accounted for about half, and China Unicom and China Telecom each accounted for about 1/4. Renovating these existing 4G base stations can greatly reduce the initial investment cost of operators in the construction of 5G base stations.In addition to choosing a more economical 5G networking approach, operators will also start with the cost of the base station itself, including choosing cheaper base stations and building more micro base stations. The above-mentioned person in charge of Huawei’s 5G product line disclosed to Shennet that “Huawei has developed 5G minimalist products and solutions that can support multi-band and multi-system integration in a base station product, so operators only need to The base station is upgraded to provide not only large capacity and the same coverage as 4G base stations, but also compatible with 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G multiple standards and multiple frequency bands without adding new stations and base stations.” But for this product The specific form and whether the operator will use it on a large scale, “Deep Network” has not been answered yet. The base station is divided into a micro base station and a macro base station, and the base station existing in the outdoor tower form is a macro base station, and the base station often appearing in some urban areas and indoors is a micro base station. In the 5G era, because the coverage area of ​​5G macro base stations is smaller, and the penetration of 5G signals is not as good as that of 4G signals, operators will use 5G micro base stations on a larger scale regardless of controlling cost or improving network coverage. In addition, operators will choose a more economical solution for the deployment of 5G networks, such as C-RAN (Centralized Radio Access Network). C-RAN is a centralized network deployment solution developed by China Mobile in the 4G era. Its essence is to reduce the number of base station rooms, reduce energy consumption, and adopt collaborative and cloud technologies to achieve resource sharing and dynamics through centralized deployment. Scheduling, improving spectrum efficiency, achieving low cost, high bandwidth and flexible operation. According to China Mobile Research Institute, the centralized deployment of C-RAN has matured. China Mobile’s survey data on several C-RAN pilot cities in Chengdu, Taiyuan, Shenzhen and Zhuhai shows that the introduction of C-RAN can significantly reduce OPEX (management expenditure) and CAPEX (capital expenditure), of which OPEX can be reduced by 50. %, CAPEX can be reduced by 15%. In the 4G era, C-RAN brought huge cost reductions and was welcomed and sought after by operators. In the 5G era where base station construction costs are higher, this centralized approach has also received more from various operators. Pay attention to it. China Mobile has held C-RAN related technical seminars several times before, and during the 2019 Shanghai Mobile World Congress, Li Wei, deputy director of China Mobile Research Institute Network and IT Technology Institute, publicly mentioned “5G (network deployment)) The main body is the C-RAN architecture.” The 5G base station 5G base station facilities of China Unicom next to Wenyang Road are built and shared. The base station is more concentrated in the 5G era. The base station construction and operation costs are also higher. If the traditional base station construction method is used, the three major operators will build their respective base stations. Facilities, then the deployment schedule of 5G networks will be seriously dragged down by construction costs. The co-construction and sharing of operators’ 5G base station facilities is particularly important. In the 4G era, the China Railway Tower solved the problem of repeated construction of base station facilities such as the three major operators’ towers. However, due to the difference in carrier base station density and user distribution, the co-construction and sharing effect of 4G base station facilities is not ideal. In the 5G era, the three major operators adopted a unified system, and the NSA networking method adopted in the initial stage of 5G construction required 4G and 5G dual links. The three major operators separately purchased communication equipment and built a 5G base station facility such as a shared tower. It is entirely possible. The latest data shows that the China Tower has jointly supported operators to build more than 10,000 5G pilot stations nationwide. According to the introduction of the Chinese Academy of Engineering academician He Hezhen, the China Tower has already stored over tens of millions of site resources and more than 1.96 million stock of site resources, fully supporting 5G low-cost fast network. In fact, the co-construction and sharing of 5G base station facilities including iron towers has become an inevitable trend of accelerating 5G networking.The horizontal comparison is in the United States, South Korea and Japan of the 5G first echelon: in the United States, due to the high cost of base station site acquisition and tower rental, a large number of shared resources such as street lights and utility poles appeared in the 4G era. According to media reports, thousands of new 5G base stations that have been built in the United States are basically installed on public infrastructure such as street lamps and utility poles. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Information Technology of Korea issued a document in April 2018, saying that due to limited urban space, SK, KT and LG U+ three Korean operators will jointly build a 5G network to accelerate 5G deployment, effectively utilize resources and reduce duplication of investment. In Japan, 5G has accumulated various sharing sites before, in order to maximize the investment in 5G construction. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) proposed to open power tower resources to operators. NTT has proposed sharing 5G base stations with KDDI and Softbank. In China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology officially promulgated the “Implementation Opinions on Promoting the Co-construction and Sharing of Telecommunication Infrastructure in 2019” on June 5 this year, proposing to build a 5G base station with the goal of increasing the sharing rate of existing resources, in addition to developing the original base station inventory. The construction of 5G base stations (especially micro base stations) will also be carried out using public facilities such as streetlight poles and monitoring poles, in order to achieve coverage in key areas in a short period of time. Local governments have also introduced relevant policies to support the construction of 5G base station facilities: In April, Zhejiang Province issued the “Implementation Opinions of the Zhejiang Provincial People’s Government on Accelerating the Development of 5G Industry”, proposing that all levels of government should be in land, power, and energy consumption indicators. Key resources such as municipal facilities and other resources will be given, free office buildings, green space resources, towers, etc. will be opened free of charge to support the construction of 5G base stations; in May, Guangdong Province issued the “Guangdong Province Accelerated 5G Industry Development Action Plan (2019-2022)”, It is proposed to open free public buildings and towers and other resources to support the construction of 5G base stations. It is forbidden for any unit or individual to charge extra fees in the construction and operation and maintenance of base stations. In June, Henan Province issued the Notice on Accelerating the Development of 5G Network Construction. Promote the two-way open sharing of mobile communication base station tower (rod) resources and social tower (rod) resources, guarantee the construction land of 5G base stations, and promote the opening of public areas to 5G base stations. The policies of different localities are similar. The core is to reduce the construction cost of 5G base stations by encouraging the co-construction and sharing of base station facilities and the opening of social public resources, thus accelerating the deployment progress of 5G networks. “4G changes life, 5G changes society”. From the perspective of 5G application, 5G network deployment is no longer just a problem for the three major operators. It requires the sharing and construction of base station facilities by three operators. A full supply of social public resources is needed. Operators need to find new application scenarios According to China Unicom Network Technology Research Institute and other institutions, by 2024, China’s 5G users will exceed 1 billion, and penetration will reach over 90%. In the next five years, China’s 5G market will reach a trillion yuan scale and become the world’s largest 5G market. The huge business prospects of 5G are self-evident, but as mentioned earlier, the high cost of network deployment is a top priority. On June 26th, the Asia-Pacific version of the Mobile Economy series released by the GSMA (Global System for Mobile Communications) showed that Asian operators plan to invest $370 billion to build a new 5G network between 2018 and 2025, of which only one country in China It is expected to invest $184 billion in 5G. On the afternoon of June 28, the former Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong said in the financial sector 2019 Summer Davos Night and Zhixiang + Technology Summit Forum that it is estimated that 5G national network deployment will require 6 million base stations and invest 1.2-1.5 trillion. The main investment of the trillion-level 5G construction is the three major operators, and the main investment cost is the network deployment based on base station construction. Although operators can reduce construction costs in a variety of ways, in the face of trillions of dollars of capital investment, while reducing expenditure, open source is also the same. At present, the three major operators are still in the stage of returning to the 4G network, and the new network tariff standards also put the operators’ performance to varying degrees.Considering that the 5G network adopting the NSA networking mode can only support the eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband) scenario, the traffic business oriented to the C-end is still the mainstream of the operators. However, in the 4G era, the traffic competition between operators with low tariffs has become more and more intense. Selling traffic to individual users alone is not enough to support operators’ 5G construction costs. The three major operators need to find new growth space. Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, said at the 2019 Shanghai Mobile World Congress that 5G ≠4G+1G, he revealed that China Mobile will invest 30 billion to set up a 5G joint creation fund, the first phase of which is 7-10 billion yuan, in video applications, etc. In terms of ecology, it will invest 3 billion yuan. The relevant person in charge of Huawei’s 5G product line also disclosed to “Shenzhen” that “Huawei is also actively cooperating with operators, industrial organizations and high-quality enterprises to explore industry applications in the 5G era, discover new business opportunities and enhance the economic space of 5G industry.” It is worth noting that the 5G network construction of the three operators will start from the data network consumption hotspot area instead of being fully rolled out. Wen Ke, director of the Information Development Department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a regular press conference that the 5G network construction and operation path will follow: “Start from the hot spot, where the demand is large, and then gradually expand. “path of. The Chinese Academy of Engineering academician He Hezhen also said in an interview with “Finance You” that the construction of 5G base stations will be rolled out from Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. The important reason is that these areas have rich application scenarios. The 5G network deployment will start from the NSA and gradually transition to SA. The application scenario will also be converted from eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), which is mainly for C-end traffic users, to mMTC (Massive Machine Communication) and uRLLC, which are mainly for B-end users. (Super reliable low latency). With the gradual deployment of 5G networks, operators’ exploration of 5G business models also needs to shift from simple data traffic services to diversified application scenarios such as low latency, high reliability, and large connectivity. .

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