On April 13, China Unicom (600050.SH) official Weibo stated that it is fully advancing the consumption upgrade of 2G customers to 4G networks, and will take various preferential measures such as free replacement of mobile phone cards, free flow of experience, and preferential purchases. Assist existing 2G customers in upgrading to 4G networks. During this process, existing 2G customer service is not affected.
This means that in recent days, "China Unicom 2G began to withdraw from the network," the message was confirmed.
For the timetable for 2G withdrawal, a middle-level person from China Unicom told a reporter from the China Business News that the company plans to complete the 2G network withdrawal within two years or so. Most of the site and frequency resources that will be released will be Used for Internet of Things and 4G network construction. In this regard, China Unicom did not make a specific response.
For its competitors, China Mobile told the reporter that there is no plan to withdraw the 2G network. China Telecom stated that it will depend on the network construction of VoLTE (IMS-based voice services).
Xiang Xiangang, CEO of Feixiang.com, believes that 2G network retiring will reduce the current daily operation and maintenance costs of China Unicom, and at the same time, it will also reduce the investment expenditure for enhancing 4G network coverage.
Authentic 4G network
The 2G network was born in 1991. It is the second generation mobile phone communication technology specification. It focuses on digital voice transmission technology, but it cannot directly transmit information such as e-mail and software. It only has calls and some mobile phone communications such as time and date. Technical specifications.
Since the birth of China's mobile communications market, 2G networks have been carrying the needs of mobile phone users for voice calls and text messages. Even in the late stage of 4G network construction and related technologies are mature today, the 4G services of the three major domestic operators are lack of volte network support. When users make and receive calls, the network signals of the mobile terminal are automatically switched to the 2G network environment. In the following, the connected 4G network was temporarily disconnected.
Because of this, 4G and 2G words will appear at the same time on the current 4G user's mobile interface.
"In fact, current 4G networks only carry traffic, and the true 4G network, voice, SMS, and other basic functions are required to be carried by VoLTE networks. In this case, unless the user chooses to disconnect the cellular network (2G/3G/ 4G network) connection, otherwise it is always connected to the 4G network. ” A China Mobile person told reporters.
The reporter noted that this time, China Unicom chose to gradually withdraw its 2G network, and it was not the volte network that succeeded the 2G network.
"The company is going to use 3G to carry 2G." "The above-mentioned China Unicom sources told reporters that "3G is an upgraded version of 2G, which is capable of accessing the Internet in addition to voice and text messages." ”
After many verifications, our reporter learned that even if the "4G+3G" combination is used instead of the existing "4G+2G", the 4G network will be temporarily disconnected when users make and receive calls, until the end of the call. .
"In fact, the replacement of 2G with 3G is a gradual process. Moreover, the only remaining 2G users are elderly users. Their demand for mobile Internet access is weak, so even if the 4G network is temporarily disconnected, compared with the current situation. There is no backlash, so don't worry. According to Xiang Ligang's analysis, operators' direct benefit from 2G network exit is the reduction of costs. This will provide support for operators to increase speed and reduce fees, and users will become indirect beneficiaries.
Reduce operating costs
Telecom analyst Fu Liang revealed to the reporter that regarding the 2G retreat, as early as the end of 2016, the three major operators had already put on the agenda.
As for the reasons why China Unicom was the first to announce the 2G network retirement plan, Fu Liang believes that one is relatively scarce in terms of capital and resources compared with its competitors, and the other is that the VoLTE network between China Mobile and China Telecom is not yet perfect. In addition, the WCDMA standard network adopted by China Unicom's 3G network is the most mature among the three major operators, and the most widely used 3G network in the world. It can support voice and Internet access, and will be used as a 4G network in the short term. The supplement still has value.
The research report on the “2017-2023 China Internet+Mobile Communication Terminal Equipment Market Research and Development Trends” released by the market research organization Zhiyan Consulting showed that China Unicom’s total investment in 3G networks was 244.3 billion yuan. The 225 billion yuan of China Mobile’s pressure was pushed to the top, and China Telecom’s investment of RMB 99.2 billion was far behind.
The largest investment has also brought China Unicom the best user experience in the 3G era. In addition, thanks to the network standard, the reporters from the evaluation results of multiple websites, China Unicom's 3G network is ahead of the other two in terms of speed measurement. The most disparate results show that China Unicom's 3G network speed is three times that of the other two operators.
However, the construction of 3G networks only took about 5 years. China Unicom, which has not yet entered the harvest period, ushered in the 4G wave and was forced to migrate 2G users and 3G users to 4G.
“Since the user base is small, China Unicom's 2G subscribers are currently relatively small, but 5 million subscribers, especially adopting gradual withdrawal, will not have a significant impact on the company as a whole. "The above-mentioned person of China Unicom said so," China Unicom basically catches up with the pace of the industry in 2017, but the deep coverage of 4G network still needs to continue to strengthen, the low frequency band resources occupied by 2G network are very valuable to this. . ”
On the other hand, currently China Unicom is investing in commercial applications in areas such as 4G and the Internet of Things. 2G base stations have been used for nearly 20 years, and are aging and require more human, material, and financial resources for maintenance.
On the other hand, China Telecom and China Mobile temporarily hold their hands, and Xiang Ligang believes that the quality of the 3G networks of the two companies is poor. If 2G is withdrawn from the Internet, it will be difficult to guarantee the quality of voice calls and SMS delivery services. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the VoLTE network. Do it again.
This view was recognized by Fu Liang. Both of them agreed that in the next 4 to 5 years, the three major operators will completely withdraw the 2G and 3G networks, while China Telecom and China Mobile will likely announce the withdrawal of both networks at the same time. shut down.
Late 2G Exit Network
It is worth noting that China Unicom's move to retiring its 2G network is not the first time in the industry. From the perspective of industry development trends, frequency reduction of 2G networks is also a general trend. Many foreign operators have already closed 2G networks.
In January 2017, AT&T in the United States, Bell, Canada, and Telus operators shut down their 2G networks; in April 2017, three Singaporean operators M1, Singtel, StarHub, and Australia’s second largest telecom operator Optus also Closed the 2G network; in September 2017, Australian operator Vodafone shut down the 2G network.
In contrast, domestic operators are slow to perform. Even if China Unicom first announces the start of the 2G network clearance, it still indicates that it has adopted a gradual approach and has not yet actually shut down the 2G network.
For this time difference, the above-mentioned China Unicom source told reporters that on the one hand, the number of domestic 2G users still exists a certain scale, especially the user base of China Mobile is relatively large, even if the proportion of 2G users is small, but the number is still huge; on the other hand After 2G was withdrawn from the network, voice services could not be well connected.
According to the current operation concept, 4G LTE networks are used to carry voice services through VoLTE technology. Therefore, one of the preconditions for 2G network retiring is that VoLTE is very mature and guarantees the quality of voice calls not inferior to 2G networks. At this stage, however, the three operators still have much work to do in this area, and both the network side and the terminal side need to popularize VoLTE-enabled terminals as soon as possible. ” Xiang Ligang said.
Fu Liang pointed out that this time difference is also related to the relatively late start of the domestic mobile communications industry.
"China's 3G licensing time is around 2008, while European and American countries have commercialized 3G networks between 1998 and 2000." China Mobile is the first operator to obtain a 4G license in China, but it is still 5 years later than abroad. Fuliang said.
"Generally speaking, a communication network has been researched and invested for the next generation of communication networks from the start of commercial use, to maturity, and then to the harvesting period. A period of ten years or so is appropriate, but China's mobile communications are starting relatively. Some late, has been catching up quickly, so 3G has jumped directly into 4G before it matures. Fuliang said, "Fortunately, after more than 20 years of catching up, China is no longer in the pursuit of mobile communications, but in the same starting line with advanced countries, even in some areas Because of the role of the person, it will be difficult for the license plate to be issued later and the network to be retired later in the future. ”