Chinese telecom companies are showcasing their latest 5G technologies at the ongoing Mobile World Congress 2021, a major telecom industry event in Barcelona, Spain, branded as "MWC Barcelona" and "MWC 21".
The three-day event kicked off on Monday amid beefed-up health and safety measures relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to a scaled-back attendance.
It is one of the few big trade shows that are aiming for a revival with in-person events this year despite the pandemic fallout, and follows the successful MWC Shanghai 2021 in February.
Yang Jie, chairman of China Mobile, the world's largest telecom operator by mobile subscribers, said in a video speech on Monday that as of May, China boasted nearly 850,000 5G base stations, more than 330 million 5G mobile subscribers, and more than 10,000 innovative 5G industrial application cases.
Yang said 5G applications are shifting from pilot programs to a stage where efforts are needed to scale up the use of the technology.
According to him, China's digital economy accounted for 38.6 percent of GDP in 2020, and the figure is expected to exceed 50 percent by 2025.
At the MWC Barcelona, Chinese telecom gear maker ZTE Corp is showcasing its latest 5G products and technologies, including new solutions around 5G stand-alone network and an all-optical network aiming to build a green, safe and intelligent digital connected network for operators.
Xu Ziyang, CEO of ZTE, said 5G applications, with the large-scale commercial deployments of 5G networks, have entered a period of iterative development. Although challenges like ecosystem construction and business models need to be contended with, the direction of innovation is turning out to be gradually clearer.
"Moreover, we, together with over 90 operators and 500 partners across the globe, have been exploring innovative 5G applications on a wide scope, and extensive use cases in more than 15 sectors were developed with positive outcomes," Xu said.
According to him, the changes brought by 5G and many other new information technologies are taking place in Thailand's factories, Belgium's ports, Austria's farms, and in areas like manufacturing, transportation, power grids and environmental protection facilities in China.
Despite the still raging pandemic, MWC Barcelona attracted 30,000 visitors from 143 countries and regions this year, much smaller than the 100,000-plus crowds seen in past years.
But experts said this year's turnout still signifies an encouraging recovery for the industry that has been hurt badly by COVID-19. Last year, the event was canceled due to the pandemic.
Sihan Bo Chen, China head of the telecom industry association Global System for Mobile Communications Association, said earlier that "5G is shaping the future, and China will continue to be at the forefront of this change".
"Every sector is undergoing deep transformation, and connected progress will stimulate global recovery and help the world overcome the effects of the pandemic," she said.