The noise around pre-5G is almost deafening at the Mobile World Congress Shanghai (MWCS) event while everywhere you look someone is wearing a virtual reality headset and acting weird.

June 29, 2016

3 Min Read
5G, Virtual Reality Dominate MWCS Action

SHANGHAI -- Mobile World Congress Shanghai (MWCS) 2016 -- MWC's Asian sibling opened its doors Wednesday morning and unleashed a torrent of 5G announcements and virtual reality demos.

Here's what I came across on the first morning:

The Chinese operators are gearing up for virtual reality
There may be questions about whether virtual reality is a viable service on any comms network but you wouldn't know it from the show floor here in Shanghai. Everywhere you turn there is a demonstration of the technology and talk of VR being a major app in the next few years, especially once 5G and its ultra-low latency gets deployed. And people love to try them out…

Figure 1: Dude, Where's My Car? When you're trying out the virtual reality applications, all you need are headsets, some seats and, er, some wheels... The Ford stand at Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2016. When you're trying out the virtual reality applications, all you need are headsets, some seats and, er, some wheels... The Ford stand at Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2016.

5G relationships in China
As you'd expect both Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) have a major presence here and both are keen to show how they are helping China's three main operators prepare for 5G. Huawei and China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL) are showing off a number of 5G-related joint developments, including network slicing (more on that later), a 5G smart car case study and some prototype technology for the 3.5GHz band as well as the 6-100GHz range. China is very keen on "low-band" 5G, known as C-band, but there appears to be little support for the use of that spectrum for 5G elsewhere in the world.

ZTE, meanwhile, has also been engaging with all three of China's carriers and appears to be putting a lot of effort behind the development of what it calls Pre5G capabilities, to enable a seamless migration from 4G to 5G, and a number of 5G-related IoT developments. ZTE is also showing off a number of bandwidth-hungry and indoor coverage applications that require mobile edge computing (MEC) systems, something it has been developing with China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU). And yes, you've guessed it, the partners were showing off a virtual reality video service supported by ZTE's MEC solution.

SK Telecom boasts SDTI success
SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) is boasting that, with the help of Ericsson, it has managed to demonstrate so-called Software-Defined Telecommunications Infrastructure (SDTI) – "an infrastructure platform where all mobile network infrastructure components, such as CPU, memory and storage, are disaggregated as customizable modules that can be flexibly and dynamically recomposed together to provide the optimal level of infrastructure scale for various 5G services based on their requirements."

Basically it has a network lego set, with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s Hyperscale Datacenter System (HDS) 8000 at its heart. That system, in combination with SDN capabilities, enables "network slicing," the ability to piece together dedicated network assets and capacity for a particular service, whether that's a personal, consumer service or a combination of "massive scale servers for services such as mobile telecommunications and OTT services." Each "slice" of the network is, as the operator explains, a "virtualized and logically separated network, tailored and optimized for a particular user or service," with each slice being created and torn down using automated network orchestration and controller software.

The demo took place at SK Telecom's "5G Playground" in Bundang, South Korea, on June 20 but folks are talking about it here.

There will be plenty more to come from the Shanghai event during the next few days -- watch out on Light Reading for further coverage. (See China's MIIT Outlines 4-Point Plan to Drive Innovation.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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