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China Mobile stakes 5G first for Hong Kong

CMHK successfully accomplishes 5G Standalone network test and completes first voice over NR call in Hong Kong

In what could be a significant advancement of communications throughout the territory, China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK) is claiming to have become Hong Kong’s first mobile network operator to have successfully accomplished a 5G standalone (SA) network test and also completed the first voice over new radio (VoNR) call.

In November 2019, China Mobile Hong Kong revealed that it had invested HKD553m in attaining all 5G spectrum to introduce a brand new 5G++concept. It bought 120MHz of various 5G spectrum, and obtained a total of 520MHz of 5G spectrum, making it one of the local mobile service operators with the most 5G resources to date. CMHK is set to launch its 5G service in the second quarter of 2020.
Radio cell sites supporting both 5G SA and non-standalone (NSA) networks have been installed for a trial at China Mobile’s 5G innovation centre Hong Kong open lab at the Hong Kong Science Park and the Mita Internet Data Centre in Kwai Chung.

Recent political upheavals notwithstanding, establishing 5G networks is fundamental in the future financial development of the territory in a region where various other states and regions have hit the accelerator on development of the next-generation infrastructure.

5G networks are seen as a technology foundation supporting Hong Kong smart city development, as well as facilitating digital transformation of various industries in the territory and serving as an essential catalyst for technology innovation in various fields.

Having a 5G core enables CMHK to offer network slicing to deliver dedicated and customised networks with specific quality of service and resources for 5G applications in different industries. It also helps mobile network operators explore new business models and revenue potential, through the expansion from business-to-consumer (B2C) to business-to-business (B2B) markets. The standalone 5G architecture also enables mobile edge computing (MEC), a key plank in cloud infrastructures with IT resources at the customer edge of cellular network, and VoNR.

“We are very excited about the successful installation and trial of the 5G SA network as it is the utmost target in CMHK’s 5G development”
Sean Lee, China Mobile Hong Kong

CMHK stressed that having such capability facilitates application and service hosting that require fast response time and high security. 5G SA networks also allow mobile operators to open their network and MEC capabilities to authorised third parties in developing applications and content. Key use cases envisaged include intelligent manufacturing, live cloud games and vehicle to everything (V2X).

“We are very excited about the successful installation and trial of the 5G SA network as it is the utmost target in CMHK’s 5G development,” commented China Mobile Hong Kong director and chief executive officer Sean Lee.

“The 5G SA network is built on service-based architecture [SBA] that features three essential capabilities, including network slicing, mobile edge computing and VoNR. However, we are now installing 5G NR equipment at the existing 4G LTE base stations to launch 5G services with NSA infrastructure as soon as possible.”

Technologically, CMHK has implemented Option 2 of the 3GPP’s 5G Network Infrastructure Global Standard for its network of NR base stations connected to the 5G core network. CMHK said it would continue to implement Option 3x on the existing 4G base stations for the 3GPP 5G Network Infrastructure Global Standard, upgrading 5G NSA by connecting to 5G NR for what it says will be simpler, faster and effective 4G and 5G network coverage.

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