Back in April, South Korea claimed to be the first country in the world to roll out a 5G network. At the end of 2018, China had 1.2 billion unique mobile subscribers. In just five years’ time, China’s 5G mobile connections (totalling an estimated 460 million) will account for almost a third of the world’s total. In Japan, meanwhile, plans are underway for a 5G-enabled Tokyo games next year.
The APAC region is arguably ahead of the game when it comes to mobile technology, and with its experience in and knowledge of the area, Cobham Wireless is pleased to play a role in further developments.

Cobham, takes a look at wireless coverage trends in APAC, and shares a snapshot of what Cobham Wireless has been doing in the area.

China speeds along with connected transport

On November 1st, state-backed operators China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom launched a commercial 5G network. In addition to investing in next-gen services, China has also been investing in connecting its transport infrastructure to provide reliable connectivity to all smartphone users. In March last year, we at Cobham Wireless celebrated our 100th deployment on China’s underground transport system. Our TETRA products are now providing coverage for driver and public safety communications across an estimated 77% of the country’s metro system. Since China’s first subway line opened in Beijing in 1969 an incredible 4,600km of track has been built. We expect further growth in the coming years, and with it, the need for cost-effective, reliable, and robust communications.

TETRA or LTE for public safety?

In APAC, we’ve already seen deployments of LTE public safety networks (ahead of the likes of the US and UK) including – once again – in China, which began building a network on dedicated spectrum back in 2013, covering more than ten major cities stations. More recently, South Korea announced that SK Telecom and KT had been awarded the government contract to deploy an LTE public safety network. The deployment kicked off last December, and is due for completion in December 2020. Public safety isn’t a ‘nice to have’, it’s critical. That’s why Cobham Wireless’ DAS supports LTE and TETRA as well as cellular connectivity – all on the same system – making it easier to deploy essential networks wherever and whenever they’re needed.

Although LTE for public safety does offer benefits – such as the ability for first responders to have group calls and send data-rich media – TETRA systems are extremely robust and will remain in place for several years to come. Cobham Wireless has pioneered the development of TETRA and TETRAPOL coverage solutions, having delivered the first such product in 1997. Our work in the APAC region includes Singapore, where Cobham Wireless was selected to provide equipment for the nationwide public safety network upgrade. This included digital channel selective off-air systems for in-building coverage and selected outdoor areas of Singapore, providing a flexible and future-proof solution.

Breaking records in India

India demonstrates the impact of rapidly increasing smartphone penetration like nowhere else. Despite economic slowdown in the country, consumer demand for the latest handsets continues: India shipped 49 million smartphones in Q3 2019, growing 10% year on year. And this is despite the 2.3% global decline in smartphone shipments. Furthermore, there are an estimated 450 million smartphone users in India, a massive increase on the 350 million last year.

It’s undeniable that this is a real growth market in terms of telecoms. However, it still poses its own unique challenges – not least its geography. Cobham Wireless overcame this significant challenge, when the team deployed connectivity in the longest road tunnel in South Asia: the 5.8mile Chenani Nashri tunnel. Due to dense mountain terrain, the location of the tunnel and the materials used to build the tunnel, RF signals couldn’t reach the commuters and operational staff inside, preventing vital communication. Cobham Wireless deployed a customised, fibre optic distributed antenna system (DAS), providing seamless public safety and cellular coverage inside the tunnel, and providing a safe (and record-breaking) experience for drivers, passengers and first responders.

Cobham Wireless has long had a presence in the APAC region, connecting ‘unconnectable’ environments and helping to deliver a better end-user experience. As such, we’ll continue to keep a close eye on news and trends, as well as making our own predictions for the industry as we head into 2020. Watch this space!