Tuesday, 25 July 2017

China Unicom looks to machines for new subscribers

By Nick Wood , Total Telecom, in Hong Kong
Friday 19 November 10

Operator to focus on environmental monitoring, smart meters as penetration edges higher.

China Unicom is looking to M2M for a new source of subscribers, as mobile penetration reaches saturation point in some of China's cities. "We need to develop new services and new revenue streams," said Dr Zhang Zhijiang, the head of China Unicom's technology and research institute…

China Unicom is looking to M2M for a new source of subscribers, as mobile penetration reaches saturation point in some of China's cities.

"We need to develop new services and new revenue streams," said Dr Zhang Zhijiang, the head of China Unicom's technology and research institute.

"The room to increase traditional subscribers is limited, we need to find a new source," he said.

Zhijiang told the audience at Mobile Asia Congress this week that mobile penetration is already over 100% in some Chinese cities.

China Unicom has rolled out its 3G HSPA network to 335 cities so far, and has plans to upgrade to HSPA+.

"Human to machine, and machine to machine are our new source of subscribers," he said, citing the industry's prediction that the number of mobile connections will reach 50 billion by 2020.

"China Unicom is closely following the development of the 'Internet of things'," said Zhijiang.

"The number of machine subscribers will surpass the number of human subscribers eventually," he said.

The operator's M2M interests lie in smart metering, smart utilities, smart houses and environmental monitoring, said Zhijiang.

Indeed, green issues are another area of focus for Dr Zhijiang's division.

"Green development is our goal, it is also our responsibility, but the amount of data traffic has increased – we need to find how to balance high capacity and the green environmental challenge," he said.

"Our resources are not equally balanced – we have high capex and opex, and high energy consumption – energy efficiency is around 20%," he said.

China Unicom sees cloud computing as offering some environmental benefits because it lowers the number of companies replacing and operating their own IT infrastructure.

"Cloud computing could be one solution," said Zhijiang. "Cloud computing has recently caught the attention of the public because it offers capacity and IT management, but lower cost and lower energy consumption."

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