Chinese companies shine at MWC

2024-02-28 08:21:18China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese technology companies are in the limelight at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2024, a major telecommunications industry event in Barcelona, Spain, as they showcase their latest innovations to explore new business opportunities and gain a wider presence in Europe and beyond.

The event, which runs from Monday to Thursday, has attracted more than 300 Chinese companies, almost twice as many as last year. The enterprises are displaying their latest products, from upgraded 5G portfolios and artificial intelligence-powered smartphones to smart cars and augmented-reality devices.

The robust participation underscores Chinese companies' willingness for global collaboration and their technological prowess in strategic industries, despite the increase in the United States' arbitrary tech sanctions on them, experts said.

According to the GSMA, an industry group representing the world's biggest mobile phone operators and the organizer of MWC 2024, Huawei is the largest exhibitor this year, and China Tele-com and Alipay have made their debuts at the show. Other leading Chinese tech companies that are participating include Xiaomi, Lenovo, Honor and ZTE.

Mats Granryd, director-general of the GSMA, said there is a need for companies to align with the challenges and opportunities. "As connectivity brings us together, technology opens possibilities. … Together we are strong, and alone we are nobody," he said.

As 2024 marks the commercial launch of 5G-advanced, or 5G-A, technology, which is a crucial upgrade of the 5G network in functionality and coverage, Chinese telecom companies are moving to center stage.

During this year's MWC, Huawei launched the world's first 5G-A intelligent core network to support more cutting-edge applications. According to Huawei, 5G-A can improve network performance tenfold. For instance, it can support a downlink speed of 10 gigabits per second, compared with the current 5G speed of 1 Gbps.

Li Peng, senior vice-president of Huawei, said, "The combination of 5G-A, artificial intelligence and cloud computing will help nurture new growth drivers." Li added that the technology can help address challenges that 5G cannot solve in certain application scenarios before the commercialization of 6G.

Eager to tap into the huge potential, China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier in terms of mobile subscribers, announced at the tech show that it will start deploying 5G-A commercial networks in more than 300 Chinese cities this year, which would make its scale the largest in the world.

Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, said the company has made progress in experimenting with new 5G-A applications. For instance, more than 4 million users in China are now using a new calling service that can support automatic translation and other AI functions during ultra-high-definition video calls.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecommunications industry association in China, said the progress comes amid the country's unparalleled edge in 5G.

China has built the world's largest 5G network, which had more than 800 million mobile subscribers at the end of 2023, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Meanwhile, the country accounts for 42 percent of the global patents that are essential to 5G technology standards, the largest share in the world, the ministry added.

"Chinese companies' enthusiasm toward the MWC event highlights their commitment to globalization and to leveraging it as a window to demonstrate China's openness, cooperation and win-win opportunities to Europe and the world," Xiang said.

As artificial intelligence takes the world by storm, Chinese companies are also eager to bring AI to more devices. On the sidelines of the MWC, Honor unveiled its latest AI-powered smartphones, highlighting its ambition to make a big splash in the global high-end smartphone market this year.

Zhao Ming, CEO of Honor, said: "We have more than 100 innovation laboratories, and have established cooperation with more than 200 telecom operators and distributors across the world. All of these resources will get us ready to expand our global presence."

Frank Meng, chairman of U.S. chip company Qualcomm's China branch, said, "Chinese companies will be the first to popularize AI smartphones and push them into more markets, as they embrace high-end brand strategies and boast advantages in supply chains."

U.S. market consultancy International Data Corp predicted that 170 million next-generation AI smartphones will be shipped globally this year, representing almost 15 percent of total smartphone shipments and a huge jump from the roughly 51 million shipped in 2023.

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