Passengers taking the high-speed railway between Guangzhou and Hong Kong will soon be in for a treat. Before the next Spring Festival (known to foreigners as Chinese New Year), the train journey will be experienced almost entirely on a 5G network.
Almost. The Hong Kong stretch of the line is not managed by the provincial authorities (at time of writing) and China Mobile cannot move to build new base stations there so quickly. In the meantime, it will blanket the Shenzhen-Dongguan-Guangzhou section of the line with enough 5G routers to make Greater Bay Area integration seem like a virtual reality.
To do this, the Guangdong unit of China Mobile is ponying up a “special fund” of RMB150 million to build more than 300 5G signal transmission points. These will allow train passengers to experience download speeds of more than 1 Gbps. In other words, sneeze and the movie will be ready to load.
Hongkongers who don’t want to fork out a lot of money yet for a 5G phone need not worry: 4G handset users will also be able to experience faster speeds because the signals will be converted on board to the train’s WiFi network. Moreover, while they are waiting in the passenger halls, users will be able to indulge in a range of VR, AR, cloud games and even 8k video smoothly on the 5G-enabled WiFi network.
This is all not nearly as simple as it sounds, apparently. Technical experts told Shenzhen Daily that it is not easy to achieve high-quality, consistent 5G coverage along the dense and complex route. For example, the 10.8-km Shiziyang tunnel between the Qingsheng station in Nansha and the Humen station in Dongguan, the country’s longest underwater railway tunnel, requires crews working there have to go in mostly at nighttime.
Still, no mountain is high enough for the bosses of Guangdong Mobile and their networking partner, Huawei Technologies, it seems. “Building the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong high-speed railway into the first high-speed railway nationwide, and worldwide, covered by a 5G network, will further facilitate the movement of talents, economic collaboration, and cultural exchanges among Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau,” said Wei Ming, general manager of Guangdong Mobile.