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5G毫米波:生态健康发展、经济效益凸显

刚刚过去的2020年,一场席卷了全球的新冠疫情极大地改变了人们的工作、学习以及交流互动的方式。新常态下,包括5G在内的新兴技术正在帮助我们应对生产生活方式变革所带来的挑战,并“化疫为机”,将影响转化为推动行业变革、加速数字化转型的动力,使产业各方从中受益。

5G被看作是加速变革和释放数字经济潜能的关键技术,而毫米波作为5G频谱资源的重要组成部分,其在全球的商用进展仍相对缓慢,对毫米波的重要性以及当前是否是推出毫米波的恰当时机不乏质疑之声。我们认为,尽管毫米波商用仍然存在各方面的挑战,但受益于20GHz以上丰富频谱资源,毫米波将是5G取得成功的基石。

发展5G,频谱是关键

5G成功的一个关键因素是对频谱资源的优化组合。对通信服务提供商(CSPs)来说,如何科学、高效地利用作为核心资源的频谱是建立强健、可扩展、高速、低延迟和大容量网络的基础。这一点既适用于5G,也适用于6G等未来网络。

5G包含丰富的元素,可以为网络运营商带来全新的业务能力。在5G网络部署的初期,运营商普遍选择了5G NSA非独立组网模式,即依托4G EPC核心网来承载新的5G NR业务。而毫米波(6GHz-110GHz)结合包括调制解调、信道编码、波束成形、天线分集在内的先进通信技术,将能在NSA向SA独立组网平滑过渡、回传网络升级和构建5G密集网络的过程中发挥重要的作用。

5G毫米波的独特

更多频谱应用于5G能推动5G 愿景的实现,同时释放更多的商业价值。例如,在sub-6GHz频段,5G可以提供良好的覆盖和高速网络连接,而如果将其与丰富的毫米波频段相结合,网络能力将得到全方位的提升,如多千兆级别的吞吐量、更高的容量或低于10毫秒的业务延迟,从而使能一系列创新应用场景的部署。升级后的网络在具备广覆盖优势的同时,为人口密集区域提供超大的带宽和极致的用户体验。同时,毫米波的加入还将改善网络的整体效能。在特定场景下,基于毫米波的5G SA网络表现甚至好于5G sub-6GHz NR网络,而两者的结合往往意味着更出色的网络能力。

面向行业,现有5G网络和技术已经开启了一系列创新应用,包括基于5G超高速连接的固定无线接入(FWA)服务,由5G移动边缘计算架构(MEC)所助力的云游戏应用,借助5G网络切片技术实现的私有网络,以及丰富的扩展现实应用。

高吞吐、大容量(连接的设备数量)和低延迟是5G技术的三大特性。毫米波在这三个维度都发挥着至关重要的作用。简而言之,如果5G比作一块蛋糕,毫米波则是蛋糕表面的糖霜,是5G密不可分的一部分。

5G毫米波在整个价值链的经济前景看好

5G Needs All Spectrum Bands

在每一次技术迭代中,电信运营商最关心的始终是如何从巨额投资中获得回报。其投资主要包括面向网络基础设施的资本支出、取得频谱的成本以及网络维护和运营所需的费用。在2G、3G、4G时代,投资回报很大程度上取决于移动终端的普及速度。与此同时,围绕消费者的移动业务也从最初的实时通信发展到数字内容消费,再到移动金融、线上购物等。凭借着更加丰富、多样的频谱资源,并结合包括AI人工智能、IoT物联网、云计算、边缘计算区块链在内的多种前沿技术,5G的大带宽将为移动业务每用户平均收入(ARPU)收入的提升带来新的机遇,并推动企业和社会的数字化转型。而融入数字化转型的浪潮能帮助电信运营商开启新的业务增长点,收回在毫米波频谱、5G SA核心网络和相关技术方面的投资。

GSMA-I(GSMA Intelligence)近期的一项研究表明,毫米波在某些应用场景下有明显优势,如人口密集的城市、室内部署和固定无线接入,部署毫米波可以显著降低5G网络总拥有成本(TCO),最终帮助运营商加快收回投资。在这些场景下,相比3.5GHz网络,使用毫米波或毫米波+ 3.5GHz网络的用户消费的数据更多。在中国和欧洲,实验表明部署毫米波频段能够为运营商节省可观的成本。

mmWave Enables Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

此外,随着开放无线接入网(Open RAN)技术(参见此处)的兴起,电信运营商能够以更为灵活的方式组建网络,减少对传统大型网络设备供应商的依赖,并大大节省5G NR毫米波网络的部署支出,进而优化网络的总拥有成本。

例如:在日本,快速崛起的电信运营商乐天移动一直致力于建设革命性的虚拟化、云原生5G网络,并在毫米波(28GHz)频段实现了低成本高效率的5G网络部署,开始引领5G Open RAN的商用。乐天移动正在建设近8000个5G站点,其接入网络包括AirSPAN毫米波分布式射频单元(dRU),基于高通5G RAN平台FSM100xx(可为小型基站提供调制解调器—射频系统的端到端解决方案)的小型基站,以及虚拟化的分布处理单元vDU。乐天移动称构建全新的5G毫米波网络与直接采用传统供应商设备相比,设施成本降低了60%。

Rakuten 5G mmWave RAN Solutions

移动终端方面,基于Counterpoint对5G智能手机物料(BoM)成本的长期追踪和分析,我们发现毫米波版和sub-6GHz版智能手机的成本差距正在迅速缩小。比如:

  • 三星旗舰手机Galaxy Note 20 Ultra毫米波版的BoM成本比sub-6GHz版仅高出10%(参见此处)。
  • iPhone 12是今年最畅销的5G手机,其毫米波版与sub-6GHz版的成本差距也远低于预期,这使苹果能够在iPhone 12和iPhone 12 Pro系列中增加OLED、UWB等重要组件(参见此处)。
  • FWA是5G毫米波的一个重要应用场景, Counterpoint预测未来十年5G FWA CPE的销量可能超过10亿(参见此处)。 成本方面,毫米波版CPE与sub-6GHz版CPE的差距也在缩小。
  • 毫米波终端成本的下降也为运营商加快商用5G NR 毫米波服务提供了更为有利的局面。

 5G毫米波经济效益凸显,充满吸引力

虽然5G迁移仍存在挑战,但从成本和潜在收益角度分析,5G无疑蕴含着巨大的商机,将为整个产业链带来非常可观的收益。面向5G蓝海,领先的主芯片平台供应商都已经推出了第三代应用处理器和调制解调器,网络设备商也通过技术、产品创新,助力电信运营商加速部署5G网络。手机厂商则在努力降低5G智能手机的成本,以迎接5G时代的到来。

成本效益分析显示,通信服务提供商可以通过多种方式降低部署毫米波的总拥有成本,并提高投资回报率。随着各项标准的成熟,我们预计越来越多的应用场景将成为可能,更多机构将加入5G毫米波生态。预计拐点将出现在2022年年初到年中,之后,无论是毫米波网络部署还是终端设备应用都将呈现爆发式的增长。

Neil is a sought-after frequently-quoted Industry Analyst with a wide spectrum of rich multifunctional experience. He is a knowledgeable, adept, and accomplished strategist. In the last 18 years he has offered expert strategic advice that has been highly regarded across different industries especially in telecom. Prior to Counterpoint, Neil worked at Strategy Analytics as a Senior Analyst (Telecom). Neil also had an opportunity to work with Philips Electronics in multiple roles. He is also an IEEE Certified Wireless Professional with a Master of Science (Telecommunications & Business) from the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

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