China behemoth talks up prospects of two new 5G consumer services.

Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

June 29, 2023

2 Min Read
China Mobile to offer new calling this year
China's biggest telco is talking up some new 5G services. Source: Grid Scheduler on Flickr (public domain)

Like 5G itself, MWC Shanghai this week has been something of a slog.

Industry leaders returned after a four-year hiatus with little to say and even less to announce.

The exception has been local champion China Mobile. While other operators have unwound lists of worthy 5G enterprise use cases, the Chinese giant has talked up its prospects in two new 5G consumer services.

One is its new cloud phone, launched last month. With the apps, OS and processing all running in the cloud, the "thousand yuan" (US$138) entry-level handset is now comparable to a flagship phone, according to Li Bin, vice president of subsidiary China Mobile Internet Co.

He said the cloud phones could be tailored to meet the needs of different user segments – general-purpose use, gaming, streaming and so on.

Getting possibly a little carried away, Li said he thought cloud phones will become the first 5G killer app.

The other big one is 5G new calling – an enhancement to VoNR that is meant to transform the voice call experience. It enables integration of other apps into a phone call, like real-time translation, or multi-party video or remote guidance.

It's being backed by the GSMA and the two Chinese vendors in particular.

Bian Yannan, deputy head of China Mobile's planning and construction department, said the first trials began this month and it is expected to launch commercially nationwide by the end of the year.

Embarrassing failure

The qualifier here is that this is not the telecom industry's first time around with a digital upgrade to a legacy service. A little over a year ago, China operators were hailing 5G messaging, which was going to turn one-dimensional legacy SMS into a multimedia service capable of attracting corporate sponsors. It's now an embarrassing failure.

These new services aside, Li Huidi said China Mobile's 5G focus this year would be on Redcap and rolling out intelligent basestations for 5G private networks.

Next year, it will explore the introduction of community emergency broadcasting, network-assisted terminal power saving and multicast broadcasting, he said.

China Mobile has also attempted to breathe new interest into the metaverse with the establishment of Metaverse Industry Alliance, with 24 members including AI video firm iFLytek, Huawei and Xiaomi. It said its metaverse investment will double over the next three years.

Earlier in the week, China Mobile and local rivals China Telecom and China Unicom all announced they were joining the GSMA’s Open Gateway Alliance.

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— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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