Upgrading network quality

Enhancing 4G network

China Unicom maintains the vision in establishing premium network. Through dedicated construction and optimisation, we provide users with high-quality network with good coverage and high speed, fully enhancing users' experience. In 2017, China Unicom made its 4G network even faster by multiplying its network speed. We also broadened our network coverage with a total of 852,000 4G base stations covering 83% of the population. According to the statistics issued by Broadband Development Alliance in January 2018, China Unicom was leading in network speed perception with a download speed of 19.11Mbps for the fourth quarter of 2017, followed by China Mobile at 17.29Mbps and China Telecom at 17.79Mbps. The peak rate in key venues and hotspots increased from 300Mbps to 375Mbps.

Construction of Broadband Network

China Unicom fully optimised its foundation network, improved quality of service, created innovative applications and products and enhanced the quality of its broadband network. In 2017, we enhanced our fixed-line broadband by multiplying its bandwidth.

  • The mainstream broadband speed increased to above 20M generally and above 50M in major cities. Speed upgrade was offered to all qualified users for free.

  • We continued to advance PON+LAN and other local area network upgrades following the completion of optical-fibre upgrade of our broadband network. Fibre-to-the-home port ratio stood at 79% on average and 85% for Northern China where we dominate.

  • The speed of our main broadband products was substantially increased to over 50M generally and over 100M in major cities.

In August 2017, China Unicom entered into a cross-industry cooperation with a popular movie and launched the nation's first gigabit wireless network and high-speed railway cinema, in its drive to constantly enhance its network and enrich people's cultural lives. It successfully deployed the world's first LTE multicast platform in a high-speed railway setting, allowing a high-speed, no-lag viewing experience for HD videos and VR services via mobile phones on high-speed railways.

Construction of inflight Internet service

China Unicom developed inflight Internet software products for airline companies like China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines with the aid of Unicom AirNet. Currently, it has deployed and implemented on more than 80 planes with Internet connectivity, providing affordable inflight Internet services for travellers. From 18 January to 2 February 2018, China Unicom held the Aviation Mobile Internet Experiential Exhibition to show the latest development in the aviation Internet sector to the general public, allowing them to try surfing the Internet with mobile phones on planes. Visitors could experience the brand new experience of in-cabin entertainment brought by high-speed Internet for the first time.

Joint development of "Belt and Road" fibre information highway

At the International Partnership Conference held by China Unicom at Shanghai in June 2017, we put forward the proposal of the joint development of the "Belt and Road" fibre information highway, calling for the active participation of our partners in the deployment of international network resources at major economic corridors and information ports along the "Belt and Road" in order to build a high-speed and safe transmission network across the globe and provide first-class international telecommunication services with high quality and efficiency.

  • Strengthening the interconnection between Asia-Europe-Africa continents and neighbouring oceans, building international submarine and land cables jointly with countries along the way.

  • Constructing an international dedicated finance network, providing financial clients with private international network of low latency and high reliability.

  • Actively exploring the future intelligent network, promoting the digital economy under the "Belt and Road" initiative.

  • Actively promoting the cooperation among industries and value chains, with the aim of developing a cooperative ecology under the "Belt and Road" initiative.

  • Launching the six "Silk Road" industry applications, providing integrated solutions for six key industries, namely finance, transportation/logistic, Internet, energy/resources, media and manufacturing/retail.

Intelligent evolution of network

China Unicom comprehensively explores the future overall network topology and evolution strategies to forge a network structure for the next generation. We will improve our network's core competitiveness and our business innovation capabilities based on SDN/NFV, cloud technology and mega-broadband technology which help make our network more flexible and intelligent. Users will be offered an agile, customised and personalised network experience, which will support rapid rollout and development of our different innovative businesses.

  • Advance network evolution and upgrades based on user and business demand, promote the transformation towards an Internet-oriented operation model, and centralise the planning for the construction of DC-oriented cloud-based communications facilities.

  • Develop an integrated Industrial Internet business to gradually enable end-to-end automatic service provisioning and achieve cloud-network collaboration and synchronisation.

  • To complete the construction of SDN-OTN (software-defined network - optic-transmitted network)-based premium transmission network.

  • Begin virtualisation of mobile network in anticipation for transitioning to 5G.

  • Make further progress in virtualisation and restructuring of Metropolitan Area Networks in tandem with the gradual maturity of virtualisation technologies.

For the development of the backbone network China169, we actively introduced SDN technology for international outbound traffic, optimised and adjusted international traffic using SDN controllers, and maximised the use of international gateway resources. Routing was optimised with respect to latency and other factors to enhance network quality for cross-border Internet access. As at the end of 2017, domestic backbone network capacity amounted to 200T, and international outbound bandwidth amounted to 2460G.

For Industrial Internet development, based on our original IP carrier A Network, we combined iterative proprietary R&D and synthesised innovation to deploy SDN technology. CloudBond, our proprietary integrated cloud-network product, already had cross-DC (data centre) private line networking capabilities in key cities covering 21 provinces where it offered cloud service providers with online application, automatic service provisioning and self-services. The Industrial Internet is the first large DC network ready for scale commercial deployment among operators across the country.

For digitisation of communication networks, China Unicom actively engaged in CORD, an important international open-source project in the field of SDN. We led in the E-CORD architecture (Enterprise-Central Office Re-architected as a Datacentre) and took part in the works of M-CORD (Mobile Network-Central Office Re-architected as a Datacentre). We established China Unicom CORD Industry Alliance to lobby for the introduction of open-source CORD projects in the country which would enhance the international influence of China Unicom in the SDN/NFV open-source field.