China gets world’s first 5G-powered rail station in Shanghai

Despite US-led campaign, Chinese firms lead in commercialization

A sign of China Mobile's 5G network at the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station on Monday Photo: Chen Qingqing/GT

5G moved from hype to reality on Monday in China. Thanks to that reality, passengers at the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station can soon enjoy ultra-fast mobile networks, where downloading a high-definition movie will only take 20 seconds.

They can also enjoy other 5G-backed services from seamless virtual reality gaming experiences to ordering a can of soda from a robot.

Chinese telecom carrier China Mobile Shanghai, along with Huawei Technologies, demonstrated how the railway station of the future will look on Monday at the Hongqiao Railway Station, which is one of Asia’s biggest railway hubs in terms of passenger throughput.

By installing a 5G digital indoor system (DIS) provided by Huawei, the station became the world’s first railway station to install 5G DIS, with the aim of achieving deep indoor 5G coverage within the whole station by the end of 2019. This development is also seen as a key milestone in 5G commercial deployment across the city, setting an example for 5G deployment nationwide, industry representatives said.

Empowered by Huawei’s DIS for indoor 5G networks, the peak speed could reach 1.2 gigabits per second, representing super-fast speed.

The 5G railway stations of the future will meet passenger demand for high-speed connectivity and mobile payments anytime and anywhere. They will also support services including 4K HD video calling and multi-way ultra-HD video uploading.

This is the first 5G DIS application worldwide, which will set an example for other scenarios in China and help carriers maximize these applications, Zhou Yuefeng, chief marketing officer of Huawei Wireless Solution, said at the launch event on Monday in Shanghai.

“Globally, China, South Korea and Japan are now leading in 5G commercialization. The advantage that China has is the huge market scale and potential,” Zhou told the Global Times.

The hallmark event on Monday also had a significant meaning in that a US-led well-organized geopolitical campaign has not stopped Chinese firms and carriers from moving ahead in 5G development. On the contrary, accumulated investment in information technology and telecoms networks in China has been paying off, analysts said.

China has been in a leading position in 5G application, driven by strong policy support and growing 5G patents, Li Zhen, an industry expert at Beijing-based CCID Consulting, told the Global Times on Monday.

This indoor 5G network solution will inspire more industry representatives to explore new business models, setting an example for 5G commercialization,” he said.

The US-led global campaign to ban Huawei from the development of 5G networks also encountered a backlash in Western countries. The British intelligence agency noted that Huawei risks are manageable, which, observers say, shows that the UK has not been successfully persuaded by US politicians to ban equipment provided by the Chinese company.

Foreign carriers could not avoid Huawei when it comes time to consider cost and operating performance,” Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry news site cctime.com, told the Global Times. 

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