China Unicom persists in its innovation-driven development, steps up its efforts in new technologies and promotes the integration of new technologies and mobile communications, while driving business development and service innovation.

Expediting technology research

China Unicom is one of the first innovative enterprises as recognised by MOST, SASAC and ACFTU. Technological innovation is always our top priority, and we have established a strong base for technological innovation as well as a comprehensive technological innovation system. The headquarter department of technology is the designated department for technological innovation. Our research and development institutions include four main R&D bases, namely China Unicom Research Institute, Network Technology Research Institute, Software Research Institute, and IoT Research Institute, as well as various professional subsidiaries and provincial branches.

In 2017, we made a rich portfolio of research achievements:

  • "Standardisation and deployment plan for six-mode all-network-access handset series", "Study on SDN/NFV network evolution and applications", "cBSS1.0 - cloudification innovation of tariff billing applications", and "Proprietary cloud-based and centralised phone card resources management system", etc. were awarded first prizes for technological advancement.

  • 5 out of 51 national research projects assigned to us have been qualified for acceptance, including the "Next generation wireless broadband mobile communication network project 03" commissioned by MIIT, and MOST's national key research projects and NDRC's "TD-LTE" project, among others.

  • Led and participated in the formulation of 209 sets of industry standards. 5 employees worked as telecommunication chairpersons or vice chairpersons and 24 employees worked as unit leaders or vice leaders in China Communications Standards Association (CCSA), possessing important influential power.

  • Participated in the tracking studies of 11 international standard associations and 5 international open-source communities. Submitted 649 essays written on international standards. Took up leading position for the drafting of 29 new standards (among which 16 were related to ITU-T). Led the release of 21 standards (among which 13 were related to ITU-T). Assumed numerous positions in important international associations such as ITU-T, GSMA, ONF (ONOS), etc.

  • Annual investment in technological innovation amounted to RMB5.81 billion. 648 patent applications were made and 346 patents were granted.

Enhancing cloud service capabilities

In 2017, China Unicom's cloud computing business was focused on the enhancement of platform and key capabilities. Greater emphasis was placed on WO Cloud's advantages in self-controllability and cloud-network integration. We targeted at the public administration market and made intense efforts in developing vertically industries such as education, medical care, environmental protection and tourism to provide customers with professional operation support services.

China Unicom has altogether deployed 41 public resource pools and 44 dedicated private resource pools across the country, with 237,000 cores of computational power, 22.7PB of storage and 1050G of network bandwidth in operation. WO Cloud is now capable of servicing 16 products with 258 function spots. Compared to the international practice of adopting mainstream open-source technologies, China Unicom WO Cloud insists on proprietary research and development to ensure safety, controllability and upgradability. It offers advantages such as the high cost-to-performance ratio of cloud-network integration, support by local operation and maintenance teams, as well as professional and reliable services.

China Unicom launched a hybrid cloud solution in cooperation with Alibaba Cloud to mutually share cloud resources. We entered into intensive collaboration with Alibaba and Tencent with respect to public cloud, hybrid cloud, and industry cloud. We also engaged in in-depth cooperation with New H3C and Tsinghua Uniudc with respect to exchange and sharing of public service data. We set up a joint innovation laboratory in conjunction with Intel and launched 5 new products, enhancing the differentiated competitiveness and service quality of WO Cloud products.

In 2017, China Unicom Cloud Data Company was awarded Cloud Sail Award of Cloud China 2017 by MIIT, Best Manager of IT Risks by CAICT and "SDN Best Industry Solutions" by Posts & Telecom Press, among others. It was also elected as a Gold Member of OpenStack Foundation.

Building Big Data paradigm

China Unicom established China Unicom Big Data Company in adherence to the national Big Data strategy. The company concentrated the massive data resources of China Unicom, enabling three product offering capabilities with respect to basic use, standard application and platform-scale industry solutions, and offering eight products ranging from labelling system, open capability platform, WO indices, risk management platform, digital marketing, Smart Steps, public service Big Data and tourism Big Data. China Unicom regards the Big Data Company as the major operating entity for external commercial Big Data applications and the single gateway for the Big Data across the whole network, as well as a platform for pooling in capital and collaboration projects for expansion in the Big Data industry. The company utilises Big Data to make continuous upgrades to its own network and services, and promotes the use of Big Data for modern city administration, industry upgrades, rollout of commercial intelligence and improvements in civil services, etc. It strives to establish a full value chain Big Data ecosystem and to provide comprehensive Big Data services for the whole society.

  • Integration of data assets: Based on the key areas and demands for "data" and "smart" technology from different industries, through data collection, mining, analysis and application, we optimised and improved our Big Data product service system for corporate and individual clients. Based on open platforms, we increasingly opened up our Big Data service capabilities and deepened cooperative operation to commoditise, standardise and scale up our external businesses in order to continuously enhance our data asset value.

  • Monetisation of data: Opening up products and applications to provide diverse Big Data application services for the public. We have developed over 200 clients and partners in 8 industries including finance, insurance, tourism, government and the Internet.

  • Operational capabilities of data platform: we have established the largest cloud-based Big Data platform second to BAT with a storage capacity of 85PB and Hadoop computing power of nearly 4,500 nodes. The platform amassed a tremendous amount of data across the country and can easily identify 200,000 Internet products, approximately 4,200 cell phone brands and 105,000 models of terminals. It has a daily online data processing capacity of 710 billion entries, and daily phone bill data processing capacity of 33 billion entries.

Fostering Internet of things (IoT) ecology

With an IoT foundation platform as its core, China Unicom IoT services make use of services such as connections, components, applications and integrated solutions as its key elements to construct an ecosystem covering the whole IoT value chain including cloud, pipelines, terminals and chipsets. It can effectively help enterprises collaborate and innovate and effect the transformation from one-off product sales to continuous improvement of service. As at the end of 2017, China Unicom had over 70 million IoT connections, including 57 million connections on the IoT foundation platforms. We serve over 12,000 corporate clients from key industries including industrial, agriculture, transportation and logistics, healthcare, retail and commerce, Internet of Vehicles, consumer electronics, energy and public sector, and public security.

China Unicom continues its "dual-engine" IoT strategy driven by capability development and ecology formation. During the International Partnership Conference, it published a "Global IoT Connection" collaboration proposal with a goal to speed up global IoT deployment and collectively forge the new values of the "Everything Connects" era. It garnered positive responses from a dozen international operator groups and leading regional operators. In August 2017, China Unicom convened the IoT Ecology Conference and published the "Platform+" strategy, established the China Unicom IoT Industry Alliance with over 30 well-known companies or organisations joining as its co-founders.

Embracing Artificial Intelligence (AI)

China Unicom kept close track of the latest development of artificial intelligence technologies at home or abroad. Leveraging on our great prowess of information and communication technologies, we constantly expanded our deployment in artificial intelligence businesses. We actively pursued collaboration within the industry, and explored the application and development of artificial intelligence.

On 13 October 2017, the Artificial Intelligence Industry Development Alliance of China held its inaugural conference in Beijing, at which China Unicom was elected as the deputy directing unit of the Alliance. As the sole representative from telecommunication industry, China Unicom organised the Artificial Intelligence Industry Development Alliance of China Tournament. We rode on the tournament to explore the combined application of artificial intelligence and telecommunication networks, drive the intelligent transformation of our network and reform our operation management with the use of AI, in search of the future pathway for China Unicom's intelligent operation. We will also actively identify competent partners in the AI industry chain.

Accelerating 5G research and development

Through key technology researches, standardisation, development of prototype devices, and trials and testing, China Unicom keeps driving the advancement of 5G end-to-end technology.

  • China Unicom develops a unified business capability platform which provides support and control to different business lines. We open up our network capabilities to improve operational efficiency.

  • China Unicom explores new collaboration models such as technological research collaboration, product development collaboration, business innovation collaboration and capital operation collaboration.

  • China Unicom completes its planning for seamless 4G/5G business integration as well as related technology evolution paths. Our 5G network requirements are based on 3GPP standards, and we promote the formulation of industry and enterprise standards.

  • China Unicom conducts research into 5G system solutions and network deployment planning. We have completed phase one of the technological requirements of our 5G base station prototype, 5G field test planning and trial proposal, as well as trial and validation of scale 5G pre-commercial use.