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5g progress review and 6G prospect

Release date:2021-12-28Author source:KinghelmViews:529

       Looking back at the history of the entire standard of mobile communication, ITU named 3G as IMT-2000, 4G named IMT Advanced, and 5G's IMT-2020, which is basically a standard for 10 years. Just as in February 2013, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Science and Technology jointly promoted the establishment of the IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group. In 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also promoted the establishment of a 6G-based research group. The IMT-2030 (6G) promotion group officially released the "6G Overall Vision and Potential Key Technologies" white paper in June this year, expounding the outlook for the 6G overall vision, eight business application scenarios and 10 potential key technologies. Since then, from the standard level, it can be said that 5G has completed the first phase of providing a basic and complete standard version, and the industry has set its sights on the evolution of 5G and the research on new 6G technologies. Before R17 is about to freeze the second phase, we will outline the progress of 5G and make a brief summary.

01 Network commercialization progress

       According to GSA data, as of May this year, a total of 166 operators have released 3GPP-standard 5G commercial networks (including mobile networks and FWA) in 69 countries and regions, and 77 operators are piloting, planning and deploying commercial 5G SA networks. network. Meanwhile, 436 operators in 133 countries are investing in 5G networks in the form of tests, trials, pilots, plans and actual deployments. From the frequency band, it is mainly in n77 (3.3GHz, 4.2GHz), n78 (3.3GHz~3.8GHz).

       China's 5G construction speed leads the world. According to data from the Academy of Information and Communications Technology, as of the end of May this year, China had built 819,000 5G base stations, which, although still small compared to the total of 5.44 million 4G base stations, accounted for more than 70% of the total number of base stations built in the world. At the same time, a total of 337 5G mobile phones have been launched in the domestic market, with a cumulative shipment of nearly 300 million. With the addition of overseas models, the number of 5G mobile phone access terminals has reached 310 million.

02 5G terminal progress

       The number of 5G terminal releases has grown rapidly. According to GSA data, as of the end of May 2021, a total of 128 equipment manufacturers have announced commercial or will soon launch commercial 5G terminal equipment, and the number of 5G terminal equipment released worldwide has reached 822, an increase of 8.7% compared with April, of which 62% have been Commercial, reaching 511 models, a substantial increase of 26.5% compared to the previous quarter. The figure below counts the number of released and commercial terminals from March 2019 to May 2021.

       The terminal category is also very rich, including 416 mobile phones (at least 350 commercialized), 144 FWA CPEs (56 commercialized), 106 modules, 45 industrial/enterprise routers/gateways, and so on. The proportions are shown in the figure below:

03 5G chipset progress


      As the foundation of 5G terminal equipment, chipsets restrict the development of the industry chain to a large extent. There are five manufacturers in the world, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Huawei HiSilicon, Samsung and Ziguang Zhanrui, which design and produce 5G chipsets. According to GSA statistics, as of May 2021, five chipset manufacturers have released a total of 35 commercial mobile platforms and 14 commercial 5G modem modules. At the same time, 4 mobile platforms and 5 5G modem modules are about to be commercialized. While chip manufacturers are striving to expand their product range, terminal manufacturers have more and more choices of chipsets.

        The chart below counts the number of 5G chipsets (mobile platforms and modem sets) released from the fourth quarter of 2018 to May of this year, and the accelerating trend can be clearly seen.

04 5G application progress


       The large-scale construction and commercial use of 5G networks has accelerated the development of the industrial chain (terminals and chips). However, on the application side, although the number of users is developing rapidly, taking China as an example, the penetration rate of 5G users exceeds 20% of applications. However, there is no "killer" application that can detonate a substantial increase in network traffic. The proportion of 5G traffic is far lower than the user penetration rate. Operators have focused their attention on vertical industries.

       The industry private network is an important application area of 5G. According to the report of Grand View Research, a well-known US research organization, the global private 5G network market size is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.8% from 2020 to 2027, reaching 37.8% by 2027. $7.1 billion. With national and local policies encouraging the combination of 5G and the industry, industry private networks have naturally become an important expansion direction for operators. In 2020, all three major domestic operators have released 5G private network products, and jointly promote the construction of private networks with the industry. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, there are currently more than 1,500 "5G + Industrial Internet" projects under construction, covering more than 20 nationals. economically important industries.

       At the industry application level, under the joint promotion of the "5G + Industrial Internet" 512 Project Promotion Plan released in November 2019 and the subsequent joint promotion of policies and industry levels, a large number of 5G industry applications have emerged. 5G+Industrial Internet "Ten Typical Application Scenarios and Practices in Five Key Industries", a case study of 5 industries including electronic equipment manufacturing, equipment manufacturing, steel industry, mining industry and power industry, as well as collaborative R&D design, remote equipment 10 scenarios, including control, equipment collaborative operation, flexible manufacturing, on-site auxiliary assembly, machine vision quality inspection, equipment fault diagnosis, factory intelligent logistics, unmanned intelligent inspection, and production site inspection, will be released to guide the development of industry applications. .

05 Overview of main items of 3GPP R17 standard

3GPP R17 standard main project overview

       We summarized the main projects of R17 in last year's R16 analysis article "Understanding 3GPP R16 in One Picture", the main ones are as follows:

NR Multicast Broadcast Service (NR_MBS)    

       Multicast and broadcast services already exist in 4G, that is, eMBMS defined by 3GPP in R9, which can support commercial use cases including mobile TV live broadcast, video on demand, advertisement push, in-vehicle entertainment, public safety, and venue sports live broadcast. In the R14 release, the eMBMS function was further enhanced, and enTV was introduced, which systematically defined how to broadcast digital TV content through the mobile communication network.

        NR_MBS provides multicast broadcasting services in 5G, and is used as a differentiated application by the fourth operator of China Mobile Communications - China Radio and Television. In fact, this project is proposed by China Radio and Television. This service can be intelligent and Dynamically switch conventional unicast services and broadcast/multicast services, and integrate unicast, multicast, and broadcast methods while ensuring network utilization efficiency to form "new broadcasts" and expand the support capabilities of personal services and industry services.

IIoT and URLLC enhancements (IIoT_URLLC_enh)

The main goal is to address requirements in a wider range of use cases.

Satellite/Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN)

In order to solve the communication problems in remote mountainous and maritime scenarios, non-terrestrial networks such as satellite networks are integrated with 5G to achieve three-dimensional network coverage. R16 has already studied the integration of 5G NR with non-terrestrial networks, and R17 has further studied the integration of NB-IoT and non-terrestrial networks.

NR Sidelink Enhancement (D2D)

       It mainly includes aspects such as V2X, business and key communication, such as the use of Sidelink interface (also known as PC5) in V2X to transmit V2X messages between UEs. It also includes implementing common functions in some key use cases and achieving maximum commonality between Sidelink's commercial applications, V2X, and key communication application scenarios while meeting specific requirements.

IAB enhancement (NR_IAB_enh)

       IAB is 5G NR integrated wireless access and backhaul, by extending NR to support wireless backhaul instead of fiber backhaul, including in-band (access link and backhaul link use the same frequency band) and out-of-band (access link The road and backhaul links use different frequency bands), IAB can greatly reduce the difficulty and cost of network deployment, especially the millimeter wave frequency band network. R17's IAB enhancements are dedicated to improving efficiency and supporting a wider range of use cases. Includes duplex enhancements, improved potential for network coding, mobile IAB, and more.

MIMO further enhanced (NR_feMIMO)

Further enhance MIMO capabilities, support more use cases, support high-speed mobility, better support FDD, improve beamforming and beam management, and reduce related overhead, etc.

Dynamic Spectrum Sharing Enhancement (NR_DSS)

On the basis of R16, R17 further explores a better cross-carrier scheduling method.

Extended support for 71GHz

The 5G NR spectrum range is divided into FR1 (410MHz ~ 7.125GHz) and FR2 (24.25GHz ~ 52.6GHz). R17 extends the frequency band range of 5G NR from 52.6GHz to 71GHz.

5G Location Services Enhancement Phase 2 (5G_LCS_ph2)

       In R16, LCS was enhanced, specifically, using the multi-beam characteristics of MIMO to define indoor positioning such as signal round-trip time (RTT), signal time difference of arrival (TDOA), angle of arrival (AoA), and angle of departure (AoD) technology, the positioning accuracy can reach 3-10 meters. R17 is designed to provide support for extremely low-latency and extremely high-precision positioning, including horizontal and vertical positioning service levels, and 5G positioning service areas. The work item will also enable MCX UEs to use 5G location services to determine their location.

Terminal Power Saving Enhancement (NR_UE_pow_sav_enh)

Explore technologies to further reduce the power consumption of 5G devices.

Multiple USIM support (FS_MUSIM)

Enhancements to support the use of Multi-USIM devices to handle mobile terminal services.

       Other R17 standards research projects include: SON/MDT Data Collection Enhancement (NR_ENDT_SON_MDT_enh), Enhanced Relay for Energy Efficiency and Coverage (REFEC), Network Controlled Interactive Services (NCIS), Multi-Device and Multi-Identity Enhancement (MuDE), Multimedia priority service second stage (MBS2), networked drone enhancement (CAV), multi-access dual-connection further enhancement (LTE_NR-DC_enh2), etc., we will analyze in detail in another article.

06 Overview of main items of 3GPP R18 standard

As the first version of 5G Advanced, R18 is in the first stage of the proposal stage. The plan will end at SA#94 at the end of 2021. Please refer to the article "What's 5G R18 Talking About" collected and sorted out:

Network slice access and support enhancements

       Network slicing is a key function of 5G. R18 will continue to enhance network slicing access and support related functions, including: when there are different types of restrictions (such as radio resources, frequency bands, etc.), support UE access to network slicing, and When network slices or allocated resources change, the impact of service interruption is minimized; it supports exposing services such as network slice control/configuration to third parties.

5G flexible timing system

       Vertical industries such as electric power, transportation, and finance have higher and higher requirements for clock synchronization. R16 provides a means of timing service through 5G. The 5G Timing Resiliency System mainly aims at the vulnerability of GNSS satellite timing services, and studies other clocks consistent with the 5G system. Synchronization technology serves as a flexible clock source for end users to supplement, backup or replace GNSS satellite timing.

Ranging based services

       Ranging is a type of algorithm for positioning and has a wide range of applications. R18 will study the relevant specifications for ranging service requirements, covering ranging operations between UEs, operator control of ranging functions under licensed spectrum, Ranging KPIs (distance accuracy and bearing accuracy, etc.) and security aspects, etc.

Low-power and high-precision positioning for industrial IoT scenarios

High-precision positioning is a key application of the Industrial Internet. The project reduces the power consumption of positioning and improves the positioning accuracy to meet the needs of more industrial Internet scenarios, such as chemical plants, underground mining and other dangerous scenarios.

Off-net railway communication

       Refers to the direct communication between the UE and the UE independent of the network-based communication, which is called the Off-Network technology, which has been introduced in the 3GPP MCX standard. When the network fails, or there is no network coverage in remote mountainous areas, railway communication can use Off-Network to communicate. As defined in the 3GPP MCX specification, railway communication can adopt Off-Network even when the network is available, and R18 will study new use cases for future railway mobile communication systems based on Off-Network, as well as QoS, priority, UE ID and location Relevant technologies such as identification, multicast/broadcast/unicast, communication range, potential spectrum, etc.

Support for haptic and multimodal communication services

       Haptic and multi-modal communication refers to responding to input through various communication channels that affect user experience, such as video, audio, environmental perception, and touch, combined with network capabilities such as ultra-low latency, ultra-high reliability and security to achieve true immersive user experience. In order to support tactile and multimodal communication services, 5G systems need to meet different network speed, delay and reliability requirements of different data streams, and also need to achieve synchronization of parallel multiple data streams. R18 will examine new use cases involving haptic and multimodal communication technologies, as well as technical metrics related to these use cases such as network reliability, availability, security, privacy, data rate, latency, transmission interval, etc.

      Others include 5G smart grid communication infrastructure, vehicle 5G relay, residential 5G enhancements, personal Internet of Things and other projects. We will continue to track and analyze the proposals and the research content of the proposals in more detail.

07 6G Vision, Application and Potential Key Technologies

As the promotion organization of 6G research, the IMT-2030 (6G) promotion group released the white paper "6G Overall Vision and Potential Key Technologies" one and a half years after its establishment. The White Paper has just passed 7 years. The main contents of the white paper include:

general vision

From the mobile Internet (4G) to the Internet of Everything (5G), the 6G era will realize the overall vision of the intelligent connection and digital twin of all things. By extension, towards 2030 and beyond:

social level:

Human society will enter the era of intelligence, reflecting the balanced and high-end social services, scientific and precise social governance, and green and energy-saving social development. It will become the development trend of the future society.

technical level:

6G will build a new network of intelligent interconnection between humans, machines and objects, and efficient interoperability of intelligent bodies. On the basis of greatly improving network capabilities, it will have new functions such as intelligent endogenous, multi-dimensional perception, digital twin, and security endogenous. Make full use of low, medium, and high full-spectrum resources to achieve seamless global coverage of the integration of space, space, and ground, and meet the needs of safe and reliable "human-machine-object" unlimited connections anytime, anywhere.

Business level:

6G will provide fully immersive interactive scenes, multi-dimensional perception and inclusive intelligence integration and coexistence, and virtual and reality are deeply integrated.

6G development macro driving force

Drivers of social structural change:

Unbalanced income structure requires digital technology to enhance inclusiveness;

Demographic imbalance calls for digital technology to improve human capital and allocation efficiency;

Changes in social governance structures force the modernization of social governance capabilities.

Drivers of high-quality economic development:

Sustainable economic development requires new technology to inject new kinetic energy;

The globalization trend of services requires further reduction of all-round information communication costs.

Environmental Sustainability Drivers:

Reducing carbon emissions and promoting "carbon neutrality" requires improving energy efficiency and achieving green development; major events such as extreme weather and epidemics drive the establishment of broader perception capabilities and closer intelligent synergy capabilities.

6G potential application scenarios

Immersive business

1) The immersive cloud XR service requires end-to-end delay <10ms and user experience rate of the order of Gbps;

2) The holographic communication service requires a user experience rate of the order of Tbps;

3) Sensory interconnection services require millisecond-level latency, high-precision positioning, and high security (privacy protection);

4) Smart interactive services require latency <1ms, experience rate >10Gbps, and reliability up to 99.99999%.

Smart business

5) Communication perception service requirements 6G network can use communication signals to realize the detection, positioning, identification, imaging and other perception functions of targets, and wireless communication systems will be able to use the perception function to obtain surrounding environment information, intelligently and accurately allocate communication resources, and tap potential communication capabilities to enhance user experience;

6) Pratt & Whitney smart business turns personal and household equipment, various urban sensors, unmanned vehicles, intelligent robots and other new intelligent terminals into intelligent bodies, which can realize the operation of the physical world through continuous learning, communication, cooperation and competition. and development of ultra-high-efficiency simulations and predictions, and give optimal decisions;

7) The digital twin business digitally mirrors and replicates the entities or processes in the physical world in the digital world, and intelligent interaction can be realized between people and people, people and things, and things and things through the mapping in the digital world. By simulating, verifying, predicting, and controlling physical entities or processes in the digital world, the optimal state of the physical world can be obtained. The digital twin requires the network to have trillion-level connection capability, sub-millisecond-level latency, Tbps-level transmission speed, and security requirements.

Global business

8) Global coverage The terrestrial cellular network is integrated with the space network including the high-orbit satellite network, medium and low-orbit satellite network, high-altitude platforms, and UAVs to build a three-dimensional network of air-space-ground integration with global wide-area coverage. Provide users with broadband mobile communication services without blind spots.

Potential key technology

Enhanced wireless air interface technology:

Wireless air interface physical layer basic technology, super massive MIMO technology, full duplex technology.

New physical dimension wireless transmission technology:

Intelligent metasurface technology, orbital angular momentum, intelligent holographic radio technology.

Terahertz and visible light communication technology:

Terahertz communication technology, visible light technology.

Cross-domain fusion key technologies:

Communication perception integration.

A new network of endogenous intelligence:

A new air interface with endogenous intelligence and a new network architecture with endogenous intelligence.

Network key technology:

Distributed autonomous network architecture, satellite-ground integrated network, deterministic network, computing power-aware network, network endogenous security that supports multi-mode trust.

The research of 6G has just started. Before that, 5G will be more deployed and applied, and the successful commercial use of 5G will lay a solid foundation for the evolution of 6G.


GSA, "5G Devices List Executive Summary", June 2021

GSA, "LTE, 5G & 3GPP IoT CHIPSET REPORT: Executive Summary", May 2021

GSA, Networks, Technologies & Spectrum Snapshot, June 2021

Netyou mercenary, "What is 5G R18 talking about? ", May 2021

IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group, White Paper on 6G Overall Vision and Potential Key Technologies, June 2021

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