5G in a post-pandemic world: Countdown to the digital blastoff

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5G in a post-pandemic world: Countdown to the digital blastoff

Huawei rotating Chairman Guo Ping told the GSMA ‘Thrive Event’ how 5G will deliver digital transformation across numerous industries.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great that you could all join us online. I am excited to be part of GSMA Thrive.

Because of the pandemic, many people can’t travel freely. So today, we are meeting through screens. This is one way ICT can help reopen the economy.

Although the coronavirus has re-emerged in some places, many countries in Asia and Europe have lived through the most difficult period. I believe that the world will soon beat the virus.

Today, I want to take the opportunity to share Huawei’s views on the post-pandemic era, especially how the world can use 5G to accelerate digital transformation.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, GSMA and telecom carriers worldwide have played a vital role in continuously unleashing the power of connectivity, helping people live healthily, and helping industries and society at large continuously recover.

GSMA has released 11 regulatory recommendations to sustain connectivity. For example, GSMA recommends distributing more temporary spectrums to reduce network congestion and promoting the use of AI-powered digital applications in the fight against the pandemic.

We are fully aware that global collaboration is critical to successfully beating the virus, no matter whether it is in the medical or communications sector. Huawei will continuously support open and collaborative standards and industry organizations in their efforts to safeguard a unified global communications industry.

Global vendors, research institutes, and industry associations should all participate in activities related to technologies and standards, and work towards inclusiveness and collaboration, as this will better promote the development of technology standards, industries, and the global economy at large.

GSMA proposed the idea that 5G will become the backbone for economic recovery in some regions. We could not agree more and will work tirelessly to make this a reality.

During the pandemic, the social value of ICT applications has been greater than ever.

For people confined in pandemic hotspots, a simple phone call or short video call can mean a lot. But for the ICT industry, this is simply a kind of basic connectivity.

More importantly, applications developed on the basis of 5G, AI, cloud, and big data have played a significant role during the outbreak, for example, in remote education, telework, and entertainment.

Such applications have enabled people to survive the dull quarantine at home. Remote consultation in field hospitals has solved the pain points of temporary medical resources, and applications like temperature checks and pandemic tracking have effectively helped contain the spread of the virus.

South Korea has done an excellent job in containing the spread of the coronavirus and reopening the economy. The country has set a record of developing one million 5G users within 69 days. I should say ICT infrastructure in South Korea is highly developed, giving the country a solid foundation upon which to fight the pandemic. To a great extent, South Korea’s success in containing the virus can be attributed to the efficient use of ICT.

Several years ago, South Korea already summarized its experience in fighting infectious diseases and passed a law that enabled the country to track confirmed cases using positioning and roaming data. This was crucial in helping South Korea efficiently contain the spread of the virus in the early stages.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, the country leveraged its 5G and other ICT infrastructure to rapidly add intelligence to medical care, achieving functions like remote diagnosis and AI-powered nursing. The results have been very impressive.

The South Korean government has also encouraged the use of 5G-based contactless applications like Untact in a bid to help reopen the economy. Despite the extreme difficulties caused by the pandemic, South Korea saw its Q1 GDP rise by 1.3% YoY. During the process, its mobile industry, especially 5G, developed very rapidly.

During the pandemic, 5G has supported many valuable applications. In my opinion, 5G today is like electricity over 100 years ago.

In 1875, electric lighting was used at a train station for the first time in Paris. In 1879, electricity was transmitted for the first time in San Francisco. Since then, the use of electricity has extended far beyond lighting and it has been widely applied in home appliances and industrial equipment. This brought tremendous changes to industrial production and took humanity forward into the era of electrification.

Over the last three to four decades, the mobile industry has basically solved the problem of connecting people. Today, 5G is developing very rapidly. There are already 81 commercial 5G networks worldwide, supporting 72% of the world’s GDP. Like electricity 100 years ago, ICT is extending to every industry, becoming a key enabler of social development. This is ushering in a new era where all industries are benefiting from ICT.

5G adoption has begun in many industries. The most mature feature of 5G is eMBB. After talking with industries, we have found that this feature alone can meet many of their needs with only slight adaptations.

Take mining as an example. In the Xinyuan coal mine in Shanxi, a 5G network has been deployed in a pit 534 meters below the surface. Circumstances in the pit are rather complicated, so data transmission and downloading are difficult. Due to bandwidth limits in the past, hundreds of sensors in the pit were only used for surveys, rather than for real-time monitoring.

Today, the adoption of explosion-proof 5G equipment makes HD video calls between the surface and the pit possible. Innovative applications like simultaneous multi-channel HD video backhaul and remote control of mining equipment make images of the pit as clear as the ground beneath our feet. In the past, this was simply impossible.

In the future, more innovations will be introduced to mines, like unmanned mining and autonomous driving. These advances will constantly increase mining efficiency and improve the working environment.

In China alone, there are 5,300 coal mines, so there is a huge market space for 5G adoption in the mining sector.

Industries that adopted 5G early on have started sharing and replicating successful experiences at scale. Digital ports are great examples. Ningbo Port is the world’s largest and also the world’s first to adopt 5G technology in its production system. Today, the port is a 5G-powered intelligent port.

Take tire lifting as an example. 5G-powered remote operations have become the new normal, and 90% of the operations are performed by machines. This means drivers just need to do two things: pick up and unload the containers. In the past, one person could only operate one tire crane. Today, however, one person can operate four to six tire cranes. This shows a significant increase in efficiency.

With the adoption of ICT, Ningbo Port is expected to reduce production investment by 2.5 billion yuan over the next 10 years.

Recently, large ports in China, including Xiamen Port, Shanghai Port, Qingdao Port, and Tianjin Port, have started using ICT technologies on a large scale, including 5G-powered unmanned container trailers, intelligent tallying, and drone patrolling.

There are over 4,300 ports worldwide, and over 35,000 tire cranes need to be improved. Therefore, there is a huge space for ICT adoption in ports.

Intelligence has been integrated into manufacturing for many years. We have gradually seen new benchmark applications emerging in the manufacturing sector. One example is aircraft production, which is the “king” of the manufacturing sector. Aircraft makers in both Europe and China are proactively moving towards intelligent manufacturing.

Here, I would like to talk about a small Machine Vision (MV) scenario. As we know, many carbon fiber materials are used during aircraft production, with as many as 70 layers of materials superimposed on each other, while the stitching space between layers needs to be less than 2 millimeters. It takes 40 minutes to complete manual quality checks on one layer. If a layer fails the quality checks, that entire layer has to be relaid out. Manual quality checks are time- and energy-consuming, and are often inaccurate. Therefore, it is ultimately a waste of time and energy.

COMAC in Shanghai has used a 5G + AI intelligent eye for quality checks, reducing the time taken from 40 minutes to less than 1 minute. In addition, this method saves over 90% of the resources previously needed.

During the pandemic, Airbus has used a digital assembly to realize remote deliveries, significantly shortening delivery times.

You see, new benchmarks for intelligent manufacturing are emerging one after another.

With the help of 5G, industries are going digital at a faster pace.

Next, we will work with our partners on industry applications to create value.

We will leverage our capabilities in domains like networks, cloud, AI, and devices to help our customers unleash the potential of 5G, generating the first round of dividends from major 5G applications.

We look forward to working with industry partners to thrive together.

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