Whenever a new mobile technology starts to commercialize, China Mobile is often at the forefront to deploy it in some extreme environments to test the network’s reliability and durability. Mount Everest is one of such environments because of its high altitude and extreme weather conditions.
As early as 2003, China Mobile had already deployed a 2G network covering part of the Mount Everest area. In 2007, the company built a base station at a record 6,500m altitude of the mountain. The next year, when a Beijing Olympic torch was lit on Mount Everest, China Mobile broadcasted the historical moment to the world through its mobile network. After 3G and 4G base stations were built in 2010 and 2013 respectively, China Mobile established 5G network at Mount Everest in 2020, marking another milestone in 5G development.
From a Follower to a Leader
Mobile communication technology has gone through five generations. 1G is the first generation of wireless cellular technology which is based on analog mobile telecommunications standards, mainly providing voice communication services to users. After that, text-based communications were implemented on the 2G network, and the 3G network allowed the transmission of images and other information. In the 4G era, videos can be viewed on phones and shared among users. Video calls also became popular. The 5G era enables high resolution video conferencing and a wide range of mobile applications, powering usage models which were unimaginable before. Over the years, China transformed itself from a technology follower to a world class leader in the mobile space, leading the world in mobile technology development and applications.
In addition to building base stations at one of the highest points on earth, China Mobile has also deployed 5G base stations in a coal mine 900 meters below ground. From the northernmost Mohe city in the Heilongjiang province of China to the southernmost Sansha city in the Hainan province, the company has invested nearly RMB $2 trillion in information infrastructure over the past decade, and now owns 5.9 million base stations covering 99% of the population and a fiber broadband network serving 600 million households.
Successful Transformation and Great Breakthroughs
5G technology doesn’t only provide higher transfer speed but also enables many smart applications which have never been seen before.
Since 2021, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), a global leader in lithium-ion battery development and manufacturing, and China Mobile have cooperated in a series of strategic projects to transform traditional manufacturing facilities into 5G+ smart factories. The two companies have built a 5G enterprise private network covering 43 factories located in nine cities across six Chinese provinces, including Fujian, Jiangsu, and Guangdong. This network is China’s one of the largest enterprise private network, which covers over 5,000,000 m2 area, and plays a critical role on “smart safety”, “smart quality” and “smart process” in CATL’s factories.
For example, a 2-storey-high, 50-meter-long coating equipment is a core manufacturing facility of CATL to produce lithium batteries. This massive, sophisticated equipment poses tremendous operational challenges for workers. By leveraging 5G powered Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, China Mobile creates an intelligent system which allows workers to fully control the equipment and production procedures. They now only need to use a tablet to control the whole operation and monitor the production in real-time. CATL also uses the high-bandwidth, low-latency 5G network to connect to several 8K high-definition video cameras that allow them to inspect products in great detail and ensure consistency in real-time, greatly enhancing product quality and the company’s competitiveness.
China Mobile has developed over 14,000 5G application scenarios. Besides CATL’s smart factory, Mawan smart port in Shenzhen city is another great example illustrating the benefits of 5G enterprise network.
The traditional operation model of Mawan port requires plenty of workers manually operating gantry cranes, various machines and vehicles on-site. Worker fatigue and human error often result in safety and efficiency issues. To tackle the problem, China Mobile utilizes the 5G enterprise network to undergo a digital-intelligence transformation at the port. Now, workers are no longer required to climb up the gantry cranes and operate inside them. Instead, they can sit comfortably in control rooms and operate machines remotely. Every operator can control up to four gantry cranes at the same time. This transformation has achieved 75% saving in manpower, 30% increase in efficiency, 50% improvement in safety, and 90% carbon reduction.
Build on Successes and Go Beyond
Throughout history, whenever people acquired new energy or information sources, what tended to follow was new developments that often furthered the advancement of civilization. In today’s digital world, information (or intelligence) is playing an increasingly important role in driving economic growth, improving people’s lives and saving the environment.
At China Mobile, we believe in one formula: C = ∑ [ E + I + F(E×I) ], in which:
C represents the level of civilization
∑ sums up the impact of all elements in the formula
E represents the impact brought by energy advancements
I represents the impact brought by information technology advancements
F is a function which creates new values by utilizing new energy and information advancements
We believe that the development of information technology can directly contribute to the building of a better society. We see ourselves as the F function in the formula. Our mission is to use new information and energy discovered creatively and add new values that help build a better world for mankind.