MWC returns to a very different Shanghai

Mobile World Congress, the biggest industry event, reboots its Asian flagship with a strong China focus.

Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

June 27, 2023

2 Min Read
MWC returns to a very different Shanghai
MWC returns to Shanghai after a four-year pause. (Source: Edward He on Unsplash)

The crowds are back, the hotels are full and industry execs are queueing up for their badges. After a four-year absence, MWC Shanghai is back but it’s not exactly picking up where it left off.

Last time around Huawei was one of the world’s biggest handset brands and only South Korea had deployed commercial 5G. We’ve since had the entity list, chip bans, Beijing’s tech war, decoupling, derisking and dual circulation.

It threatens to turn a China-centric event into a China-dominated event. Ericsson isn’t here, Nokia is barely here (although both companies have sent speakers). Cisco and Intel aren’t showing up, as obviously is no one from the open RAN world.

Of the several dozen GSMA operator members in the region outside China, only NTT Docomo, HKT, Singtel and KT Corporation have offered speakers to the association’s biggest Asian event.

The preliminary sessions on Tuesday spoke to China preoccupations – building out rural 5G, building out 5G application platforms, and how to maintain its often-proclaimed global 5G leadership.

At a Huawei-organized event, featuring all three operators and a clutch of local industry figures, the vendor’s wireless products chief Cao Ming sold an upbeat story about new 5G video experiences, growing data consumption and the success of 5G FWA. He also told the audience that 10Gbit/s 5G was ready to scale.

Allocating 6GHz for 5G, 6G

In another event, China Mobile unveiled "15 5G innovations." These include intelligent basestations to enable customized private networking; video over new radio (VoNR) which opens up new real-time services based on the VoNR+ architecture; and a metaverse product, 5G integrated broadcasting with XR.

The day wasn’t completely bereft of news. In the biggest development, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced it had allocated the 6GHz band for 5G and future 6G – the first country to do so.

It described 6GHz as "the only large-bandwidth high-quality resource in the mid-frequency band." It said it provides both coverage and capacity, is suitable for 5G and likely future 6G requirements and could also take advantage of existing global mid-band 5G industry.

China Mobile also revealed its 5G network now covers around 85% of the population and would reach 90% by the end of the year.

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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 ( 

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