China sees in-depth integration of 5G network into various industries

Photo taken on August 13 shows the cab of a smart self-driving bus in Xihai’an (West Coast) New Area of Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province. (Photo by Yu Fangping/People’s Daily Online)

Under a 380-meter-high power transmission tower on Jintang Island in Zhoushan, east China’s Zhejiang province, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) slowly rose into the air and started its routine inspection of the 500-kilovolt power transmission lines between Zhenhai district of Zhejiang’s city of Ningbo and the large steel pylons on Jintang Island.

“We used to carry out the inspection by looking through a telescope on the ground. It was inefficient, and some parts of the lines may be missed out,” said Han Lei, a staff member who is in charge of the UAV project of Zhoushan power supply company of State Grid Corporation of China.

In July, the company put into service a 5G-based UAV autonomous inspection system built with the help of China Unicom. Thanks to the 5G network with high bandwidth and low latency, data, images, and videos can be quickly transmitted to the control room via the new system, which enables people to get inspection report by simply clicking on the computer screen and has improved the efficiency by more than four times.

By the end of June, the number of 5G base stations in China had exceeded 400,000, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), which revealed that the country’s number of 5G terminal connections had reached 88 million as of the end of July.

Such amazing figures are the result of China’s fast speed and huge scale of 5G network construction that exceeded all expectations.

China is seeing 15,000 more new 5G base stations every week. The country has newly built 257,000 5G base stations during the first half of this year, with over 97 percent of the needs in construction being met through the use of existing resources.

The Shanghai-Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze River Bridge that opened to traffic in July, for one, has been equipped with 5G network.

“China Tower Corporation Limited has overcome many difficulties in the construction, including working at heights, limited construction time, and compatibility of full coverage of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks,” disclosed Ye Lu, general manager of the Nantong branch of China Tower, which participated in the 5G construction on the bridge.

Ye added that the company managed to make one antenna be shared by multiple enterprises, saving 60 percent of the investment and shortening the construction period by 60 days.

The huge number of 5G base stations and 5G terminal connections represent the rapid integration of 5G network into Chinese people’s lives and its increasingly important role in bringing changes to the country’s economy and society.

“The Internet speed of 5G network is so fast. The smooth and high-definition livestreaming videos based on 5G network helped me a lot with my business,” said Zhou Weimin, manager of a restaurant located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

“Catering businesses in tourist attractions were confronted with obstacles during the COVID-19,” Zhou said, disclosing that the business of his restaurant has eventually got better since he started to introduce the specialties of his restaurant, promote takeout food, and help customers tour the Phoenix Mountain to people via livestreaming.

In fact, the number of people in China who have enjoyed the benefits of 5G network like Zhou is surging at the rate of several million a month.

At the same time, massive innovative applications of 5G network are taking place across the country.

“Since the use of the 5G network and driverless heavy-duty rack cars, each roll of steel can be handled three minutes and thirty seconds faster than before and the number of managerial staff has been reduced from 130 to 30,” disclosed Xu Yonggang, chief customer manager of the government and enterprises clients department of the Shanghai branch of China Telecom, referring to the driverless heavy-duty rack cars shuttling between the wharves near the Yangtze River and the base of Baosteel in Baoshan district of Shanghai.

These driverless heavy-duty cars are the first batch of driverless road vehicles with the greatest load-carrying ability put into use in China’s metallurgical industry. While representing a new attempt of Baosteel and China Telecom to promote the application of 5G technology in industrial Internet, these vehicles could handle the smooth turnover of 100,000 tons of steel rolls on a daily basis.

The in-depth integration of 5G network into traditional industries including industry, transportation, medicine, education, and energy are producing fruitful results, benefiting the world with achievements in such areas as self-driving vehicles, industrial Internet, smart transportation, smart medicine, smart home, and smart education.

By the end of June, China had more than 70 industrial Internet platforms with a relatively strong industrial and regional influence, which had been connected to 40 million sets of industrial equipment, according to relevant statistics.

At the same time, the number of end users of cellular Internet of Things (IoT) of China’s three major telecommunications operators had accumulatively reached nearly 1.11 billion, up 32.7 percent year on year.

Meanwhile, the numbers of end users of cellular IoT used in smart manufacturing, smart transportation, and smart public facilities had grown by 21.1 percent, 18.2 percent, and 21.4 percent respectively from that of the same period last year.


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