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The sustainable growth of global mobile industry requires a unified technology ecosystem

by Guang Yang | Jun 15, 2020

5G standardization is beginning a new chapter

We published a report Who Are the Leading Players in 5G Standardization? An Assessment for 3GPP 5G Activities in early this year to analyse the contributions of leading industry players to 3GPP 5G standard in the time frame of 2017 – 2019 (i.e. Release 15 and a large part of Release 16). Now the standardization process of Release 17 has been kicked off, even though all 3GPP meetings in 2020 will be “electronic meetings” due to the COVID-19 crisis. The support to vertical industries is an important part of Release 17 works.

Release 17 will include the enhancements to meet the common requirements of vertical industries, such as:

  • Broadcast / Multicast for Mission Critical, Automotive, Satellites, Drones…
  • Proximity Services for Mission Critical, Automotive, Broadcasters, Maritime, Smart Home/City, Asset Tracking…
  • Positioning / Location

Release 17 will also standardize the service capabilities for some specific vertical applications, such as Critical Medical Applications, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Cyber-Physical Control Applications in Vertical Domains, etc.    

In the recent e-meeting, 3GPP SA1 working group – that defines the service and feature requirements for 3GPP systems – has actually kicked off the discussion on Release 18 Work Items. Most of the discussion is about the support to vertical industries.  

This reflects the fact that the global mobile industry sees the enterprise and industry IoT market as a new engine of the future growth. But many industry IoT scenarios are the long tail markets with diverse demands for connectivity. The standardization work is particularly important for building a common layer for the diverse scenarios to extend the scale of economy. 

Global harmonized standard is the foundation of 5G success

On May 29th, 3GPP announced a milestone of the standard organization: the number of 3GPP member companies rises to 700, doubled from the original 350 member companies when 3GPP was created in 1998. This indicates the trend of global mobile standard harmonization. 

technology convergence

The chart above illustrates the evolution of global mobile technology standards. The history of the mobile technologies from 1G to 5G proves that a global harmonized standard is critical for the scale of economy and the effective market competition. Today’s 5G standard is the result of the joint efforts of industry players from various countries / regions.

According to 3GPP, 35% of 3GPP delegates come from Asia, 44% from Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and 21% from America. In our report Who Are the Leading Players in 5G Standardization? An Assessment for 3GPP 5G Activities, we identified the top 5 contributors to 3GPP 5G standardization in 2017 – 2019. They include the infrastructure giants from Asia and Europe: Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia. Huawei is actually the clear leader in contributions to the complete end-to-end 5G standard who contributed 18.4% 5G contribution and led 18.1% 5G related Work Items / Study Items.  The top 5 contributors also include China Mobile, the largest mobile operator in the world in terms of the subscription base. The US chipset maker, Qualcomm, is in the top 5 list as well. Although its size is smaller than other four, Qualcomm plays an irreplaceable role in the standardization process as a leading chipset vendor.

Therefore, a global harmonized standard is the basis of the 5G’s success. A unified global technology community is must-have for the standardization process.

To explore industry IoT opportunity requires a unified technology ecosystem

When the global mobile industry explores the growth opportunity from industry IoT, it is even more important to maintain a unified global technology ecosystem.

As we known, many industry IoT use cases are typical long tail markets. Only when the common layer of these diverse cases is abstracted and standardized, can the necessary scale of economy be achieved. For example, either the crane in a port, the mining machine in a coal mine or the robot in a factory needs a reliable and low latency wireless connectivity, if a precise remote control is required. The market size is limited in each case. But if we could abstract a common layer and make a standard, such as the Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC) features, the total addressable market could be large enough.

To achieve this goal, a broader collaboration is required between mobile industry players and also between mobile industry player and vertical industry partners. A unified global technology community is even more important than ever. It will be the cornerstone of the sustained growth of the global mobile industry. However, the China-US trade war and the geopolitical tension may impact on the unity of global technology community. The restriction on Chinese suppliers – and the potential countermeasures of China – may lead to the fragmentation of the global standardization. It will hurt the effort of developing cross-industry collaboration and open a “Pandora’s Box” that damages the global industry chain. Facing the uncertainty, the leading industry players should be united to demonstrate that a unified rather than fragmented technology ecosystem is the foundation of the connected world.

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