ZTE displays 5G elements designed for Digital China’s “Industrial Internet” and “Satellite Internet of Things” programs at the 2023 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. ZTE also makes the first public reference to a sea domain in Digital China’s integrated networks program.

The PRC telecommunications firm ZTE is displaying 5G elements at the 2023 Mobile World Conference in Barcelona designed for applications in two of Digital China‘s digital infrastructure programs: the “Industrial Internet” and the Satellite Internet of Things. Both programs are affiliated with China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy.

ZTE is displaying ten solutions in Barcelona to assist in 5G network construction. One of these solutions offers “sub-band full-duplex [transmission] with a simultaneous large uplink and low latency,” (子带全双工 同时支持 大上行与低时延), a technology described as “extremely suitable for the industrial internet.” The “Industrial Internet” is a Digital China New Type Infrastructure (NTI) Tier Three dual-use program. The Industrial Internet program is designed to elevate China’s entire industrial ecosystem and its supply chains both domestically and globally, to include China’s entire high-technology industrial ecosystem: civil industry, defense industry, and full military facilities.

ZTE is also displaying 5G technology supporting the “evolution of core network architecture” for space-air-ground integrated networks (SAGIN). This evolution, in part, allows “users as the center.” “Space-air-ground integrated networks” is a subcategory of the Digital China NTI Tier Three dual-use program “Satellite Internet of Things.”

Also noteworthy, ZTE added that the 5G SAGIN technology would allow an all-dimensional full synergy between the “space, air, ground, and sea domains.” This is the first public mention that the Digital China integrated network program may also include the maritime domain, thus a four-dimensional program, and potentially a PLA doctrinal expansion to “space, air, ground, sea battle.” Publicly available graphics of China’s civilian SAGIN developmental program include images of a “maritime network,” without the sea domain being explicitly mentioned in text, or the maritime network being described as “military.”

Although the news above was the most relevant for this blog, the level of effort by China at the conference is also worth touching on briefly.

More than 100 PRC firms will “shine” in Barcelona as they show the “style of Chinese companies,” including: Huawei, ZTE, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, OPPO, UNISOC, Fibocom, TD Tech (a Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei Technologies Joint Venture), Comba, Changhong, Ruijue Networks, Xiaomi, Honor, Raisecom, Whale Cloud, China Xinke, Realme, TECNO, and Urovo Technology.

There is an entire China venue at the conference centered around the theme of “The Way Forward for Digitalized Innovation and Transformation” (I heard that somewhere before…) with eight keynote speeches planned: “A Vision for a Better Future,” “Implementing a Decade of Digitalization,” “A World in Flux,” “Is It Time to Co-Create?,” “Platform Transformation,” “New Behavior Under a New Reality,” and “Enter the Metaverse.”

Most of the “heavyweight” speakers at the China venue represent PRC firms, but not all. China Telecom’s executive vice president will be speaking as will the general manager and deputy general managers from, respectively, China Mobile and China Unicom’s Network Communications Group. ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin will also be speaking at the China venue, as will Telefonica’s Chairman and CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, and Orange CEO Christel Heydemann.

One of the top technology showcases for PRC firms will be 5.5G (aka Advanced 5G or 5G-A). The conference will hold a 5G-Advanced summit inviting operators (including China Mobile, Orange, and Zain); equipment manufacturers  (including Huawei and Ericsson); and intelligent terminal partners including Qualcomm and NVDIA.  China’s three major operators will be also showing their individual 5.5G programs under development for commercial use, including China Mobile’s 5.5G Dual Chain Integration-Innovation Plan (双链融合创新计划), China Unicom’s Smart: Three Major Innovation Tracks (智慧三大创新赛道), and China Telecom’s Super Trilogy (超级三部曲).

The Huawei booth itself focuses on its newest energy-saving 5G technologies (as described by Huawei):

  • New MetaAAU technology, including the industry’s largest bandwidth 800MHz MetaAAU. The technology reduces energy consumption by 50 percent over traditional AAU’s. The single module 800MHz MetaAAU provides full C-Band coverage and achieves a minimalist 3400MHz~3800MHz deployment;
  • The industry’s lightest macro station M-MIMO, weighing only 12kg per module;
  • The industry’s highest integration Meta BladeAAU, can achieve a sub-6GHz full-band single-pole minimalist deployment;
  • The industry’s lowest energy consumption super broadband 4T4R RRU;
  • The industry’s most powerful ultra-wideband 8T8R RRU;
  • The industry’s only large-scale commercial-use FDD MM;
  • Huawei’s unique signal direct injection feeding (SDIF) technology;
  • A new generation of microwave Huawei “MAGICSwave” products; and
  • Huawei “IntelligentRAN.”