China Unicom, China’s second largest mobile provider by subscribers, has confirmed that it has not yet set a timeline for the introduction of 5G services. Speaking at the sidelines of last week’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai event, Deputy General Manager of Network Construction Ma Hongbing was quoted by RCR Wireless as saying: ‘The key elements that will make the deployment of 5G feasible and commercially possible are not yet finalised, so we are not in a position to have a clear timeline towards the deployment of this technology. I believe that the fact mobile operators will deploy commercial 5G in two or three years is a kind of general overview at this point but it is not something definitive.’ The official added that Unicom has conducted lab trials of 5G technologies with several vendors, including the likes of Swedish vendor Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, whilst it also has also carried out field trials in Shanghai and Guangzhou with domestic vendors Huawei and ZTE.
In a related development, China Unicom, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies demonstrated LTE Category M1 (Cat-M1) voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) use cases at MWC, namely a fire alarm trigger panel and a GPS emergency tracking device. The demonstrations used Unicom’s spectrum, Ericsson’s Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure and Qualcomm’s multimode LTE IoT modems.