WinWin Issue 43
Deputy General Manager of Marketing Operations, China Mobile
5G New Calling: New Experiences and Capabilities for a Brighter Future
--With the addition of ultra-HD, intelligent, and interactive capabilities, 5G New Calling can provide more multimedia content and real-time interactions during calls. 5G New Calling is one of China Mobile's key strategic products, and features new experiences and capabilities, along with a new ecosystem. Alongside industry partners like Huawei, China Mobile has launched innovative services such as visualized voice calling, fun calling, and real-time translation to enhance user experience and increase the value of the dialpad on native terminals. This is breathing new life into the industry and expanding the horizons of calling services.
Operators have been actively innovating voice calling services. However, these innovations have not fundamentally transformed calls to make them visible, as well as audible. The current advancement of technologies is allowing operators to develop the future-oriented 5G New Calling service that offers new experiences and capabilities, alongside a new ecosystem. This is finally upgrading calling services from being only audible to also visible.
A thriving 5G New Calling business requires the active exploration and continued promotion of different industry players. As the first operator to launch the 5G New Calling service, China Mobile has a clear strategy for 5G New Calling, and its achievements in this regard have already proven fruitful. China Mobile's carefully-considered roadmap for the future development of 5G New Calling has set a fantastic example for the industry.
Review: 5G New Calling,accelerating a year after launch
Voice call has long been a basic service of operators, offering unique and fundamental business and social value. Voice services are a key way for carriers to gain consumers. Voice services that offer better experiences are critical to both operators' reputation and customer retention. At the same time, voice services act as a bridge for communication with consumers.
In the 5G era, we expect significant changes in terms of both networks and services. Voice and video calls will continue to evolve in order to deliver more immersive experiences, make calls more HD, intelligent, and interactive, and constantly improve user experience. China Mobile has been exploring how to breathe new life into calling services and took the lead in proposing 5G New Calling in the industry. By providing a range of innovative and enhanced calling services, alongside innovative application experiences, 5G New Calling is expected to become an iconic 5G application. 5G New Calling also represents an upgrade to the traditional voice and video calls, providing more multimedia content and real-time interactions during calls, and offering users a new calling experience.
5G New Calling comes equipped with three new features that are superior to those offered by traditional calling services. The first feature is new experience. The calling experience is upgraded from being only based on voice and video to an experience that is ultra-HD, intelligent, and interactive. The second is new capabilities. In addition to voice and video, 5G New Calling integrates multi-media and data interaction capabilities to enable abundant applications beyond just calls. The third feature is a new ecosystem. Operators will be committed to building an open 5G New Calling ecosystem to provide users with a wealth of new calling services.
In April 2022, China Mobile held a product launch themed "5G New Calling for a New Future", marking the official launch of 5G New Calling products. As a result of joint new calling service innovation with partners like Huawei and iFlytek, the operator also launched some pilot 5G New Calling services, such as barrier-free smart communications, visual service menus, and remote assistance. These services make calls more intelligent, visual, and interactive, break traditional communication boundaries, improve communication efficiency, and continuously enhance user experience. This launch made China Mobile the world's first telecom operator to provide a pre-commercial trial for 5G New Calling, marking the beginning of the era of 5G ultra-HD video calls.
Take the visualized voice calling as an example. When a voice call is made between two users, if one user has chosen to use an animated avatar, then the other user can see this avatar on their mobile phone screen. Enterprise users can even set corporate avatars, which will be presented on the other user's phone screen during calls. This transforms mobile phone screens into a new mobile medium, and with the average call lasting 90 seconds,and users paying for the service, there is huge potential for content monetization.
Another example is the real-time translation service, which embeds intelligent technology into video calls to enable real-time speech recognition and speech-to-text conversion. This allows users to see what is being said by the person they are calling in the form of subtitles. If the callers speak different languages, the service can interpret their speech in real time to help overcome communication barriers.
In January 2023, China Mobile started recruiting the first batch of friendly users at scale in Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu provinces, marking a key step in the operator's journey towards commercializing 5G New Calling.
During MWC Barcelona 2023, China Mobile, together with Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) and Huawei, successfully held the 5G New Calling Industry Development Forum. At the forum, global operators, standards organizations, equipment suppliers, and device manufacturers all presented their innovations and practices regarding 5G New Calling. These offerings gave the entire industry a peek into the thriving 5G New Calling ecosystem.
Industry perspective: Collaborating with industry peers to drive 5G New Calling
Many players in the industry have been actively involved in the development of 5G New Calling, creating value in their own respective ways. China Mobile has worked with various industry players to promote the development of the service.
In August 2021, China Mobile joined hands with a number of partners, such as UNISOC, TD Tech, and Huawei, to establish the 5GDNA VoNR+ (New Calling) Working Group as a way to promote the development of the VoNR+ (New Calling) industry and standards, and expand the industry ecosystem.
In July 2022, China Mobile released the 5G New Calling Technical White Paper, which is the first in the industry to detail the core concepts and typical application scenarios of 5G New Calling. This white paper also specifies the key platform and device capabilities required to achieve 5G New Calling.
At the 5G New Calling Industry Development Forum, held during MWC Barcelona 2023, China Mobile proposed the 5G New Calling Industry Cooperation Initiative together with companies such as Tencent, Huawei, iFlytek, Vivo, and Xiaomi. This initiative calls on global operators, network equipment suppliers, device and chip manufacturers, audio, video, and AI technology providers, and industry partners to participate in the New Calling industry, explore New Calling services and related business model innovations, contribute to the development of globally unified standards, and work to ensure interoperability. These efforts will give rise to a mature New Calling industry and prosperous ecosystem. The GSMA also launched the New Calling Foundry project, which has helped reach an industry consensus and develop a unified global ecosystem regarding new calling.
5G New Calling is now one of China Mobile's strategic products. China Mobile will continue exploring application scenarios for 5G New Calling, advance the commercialization of relevant services, and drive the launch of devices that natively support 5G New Calling, in order to foster a prosperous 5G New Calling ecosystem. We believe that operators should advance the construction of VoLTE network infrastructure, increase the penetration of VoLTE users, and enhance the interoperability of VoLTE networks. These actions will result in a solid network foundation for the phased realization of 5G New Calling.
In the first phase, new capabilities like AI and AR can be introduced to networks to enable intelligent applications that are based on video calls without the need for device upgrades. Operators can develop services like visualized voice calling, real-time translation, fun calling, and intelligent video calling, which can be used on any device that supports video calls, also without the need for device upgrades. This will improve users' calling experience, increase the number of new calling users, and cultivate user habits.
In December 2022, China Mobile held a New Calling service demonstration for HD video calls, and VoNR+-based Chinese-English interpretation and fun calling services based on a scenario where a China Mobile user in Seoul, South Korea, uses roaming to call another China Mobile user in Beijing, China. This demonstration laid a foundation for the interoperability of New Calling services worldwide.
In the second phase, data communications can be added to voice and video communications to deliver intelligent calling services that support real-time interactions. It is critical that networks and devices are upgraded to support IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) data channels. Operators can develop interactive calls, promote devices' native support for data channels, and develop more universally-applicable New Calling services based on data channels, such as remote sharing, AR annotation, and file transfer, thus improving communication efficiency. Interactive calls are suitable for some industry scenarios, such as interactive menus for bank customer services and remote vehicle damage assessments for the insurance industry. Such services can simplify transaction processes and enable operators to develop a wider range of applications for individuals and enterprises.
In March 2023, China Mobile Zhejiang, alongside China Mobile Research Institute, China Mobile Terminal, and ecosystem partners like Huawei, completed the world's first live-network call through 5G New Calling based on IMS data channels in Hangzhou. This was the first ever endto-end call made with 5G New Calling based on a commercial IMS network, native baseband chips, and a native upper-layer application SDK. It marked the next step of 5G New Calling in terms of both networks and devices.
Prospects: A promising future despite the bumpy road
5G New Calling has shown operators the tremendous potential of voice call services, but the road to business success will not be an easy one. The industry should be fully aware of the challenges facing the development of 5G New Calling services.
First, devices are key to promoting New Calling. Devices need chip and software upgrades before they can natively support New Calling, meaning support is required from chip and device industry partners. China Mobile is set to provide a native New Calling feature pack for devices, and is currently working with chip and device manufacturers to debug New Calling prototypes. China Mobile will also increase industry cooperation to boost the development of the New Calling ecosystem.
Second, rapidly and iteratively upgrading applications while ensuring network stability for calls is very challenging. In particular, quickly launching smart applications while ensuring basic call quality represents a major challenge for the development of 5G New Calling. China Mobile will simplify the network architecture and decouple basic call functions from smart application capabilities, in order to support rapid service rollout and upgrade.
Third, New Calling service experience must be polished, while the application ecosystem needs to be enriched. China Mobile continuously enhances New Calling capabilities and optimizes user experience to attract more developers to develop high-quality 5G New Calling applications.
In the past, innovations in VoLTE and video ring back tone (VRBT) services supported operator business growth. Take the video RBT service as an example. According to data released by the 5G+ Video RBT Industry Alliance in March this year, the annual output value of video RBT now exceeds CNY10 billion, and there are more than 14,000 ecosystem partners. To date, the number of video RBT users exceeds 360 million, the number of users reached is over 900 million, and video RBTs have been played 200 billion times per year.
When looking at trends regarding 5G New Calling, this service has brought users innovative applications like visualized voice calling and real-time translation. In the future, IMS data channel technology will extend 5G New Calling's application scenarios to remote damage assessment and remote home broadband maintenance to empower numerous industries, improve the communication experiences of both individual and industry users, and enhance communication efficiency and user satisfaction.
5G New Calling not only improves consumer experience, but enhances operators' service capabilities and competitiveness against OTT solutions. For example, China Mobile launched the 5G-based video customer service function, which provides multiple services, such as basic service query or handling and remote operation guidance, thereby allowing users to enjoy one-stop services.
There is an old Chinese saying that goes, no matter how bumpy the road ahead may be, we will stay the course. Despite the various challenges facing 5G New Calling, operators can promote the construction of VoLTE network infrastructure to lay a solid foundation for the service. Operators can also actively explore new services and application scenarios for New Calling through the promotion of services like visualized voice calling, real-time translation, fun calling, and intelligent video calling, as well as the development of interactive call applications like remote sharing, AR annotation, and file transfer.
Looking to the future, we believe that through the concerted efforts of operators, chip and device manufacturers, and standards and industry organizations, 5G New Calling will experience rapid development and enjoy a promising future.