China Unicom proactively played its role as an innovation engine, intensified efforts to seek breakthrough in core information technologies, and made contributions to the building of a cyber superpower by virtue of its own innovation capability.

Propelling the evolution of 5G technology

In active response to the national 5G strategy, China Unicom devoted itself into research and development and trials of 5G technology, and took the lead in the completion of a number of 5G standards-based specifications and projects, which have greatly advanced the progress of 5G development. It was the first operator to complete the Non-Standalone (NSA) trials in China, and initiated the new Standalone (SA) network trials in 11 pilot cities. Further, it completed the in-field and out-field trials of 5G carrier network and drove the decoupling of 5G carrier network equipment from different manufacturers.

Taking a cloud business-driven approach

Focusing on a cloud business-driven approach, China Unicom formulated the overall development strategy of cloud business featuring cloud and network integration, security and reliability, multi-cloud collaboration and service customisation. Underpinned by the cloud business, the Company established a new integrated product system through enhancing the full-stack component capacity of Heavenly Palace and Smart Enterprise platforms and integrating intelligent network, IoT, big data, industrial Internet applications and other products, thereby providing complete solutions for vertical industries. In 2019, the resources on our cloud platform included 267,000 virtual central processing units (vCPUs), 876.2T memory and 26.4PB of storage capacity, and the percentage of cloudified resource pool increased to 62.3%.

Enriching cloud products and services

  • In terms of public cloud, China Unicom persistently expanded the supply capacity of “WO Cloud” products and cooperated with the partners to provide customers with integrated cloud computing services under the “WO Cloud” brand. Currently, more than 250 basic and application products have been rolled out on “WO Cloud” public cloud, 45 application products are provided on WO Cloud market and 116 functions have been launched on “WO Cloud” public cloud platform.

  • In terms of private cloud, continuous efforts were devoted to build safe and reliable cloud platform and cloud products, including 312 functional points under four major categories. China Unicom succeeded in proprietary research and development of core technologies, and obtained more than 100 software copyright certificates.

  • In terms of industry cloud, China Unicom continued to explore and practise in key industries, and provide customers with professional and high-quality industry cloud solutions and products by leveraging on the unique advantages of WO Cloud in cloud network integration as well as multi-cloud collaboration.

  • In terms of cloud-network integration, China Unicom vigorously advanced the construction and deployment of intelligent networks and built new networks integrating cloud and network.

  • In terms of cloud integration service, China Unicom relied on the localised operation and service teams to strengthen self-implementation capability, improved the professional operation and service capabilities such as cloud integration, cloud migration and cloud security, and rendered customers one-stop services including consultation on cloudification planning, solution development, implementation of the integration, cloud migration and security defence.

  • In terms of the application of cloud platforms, the Heavenly Palace and Smart Enterprise platforms were rolled out in Guangdong, Sichuan, Shandong, Beijing, Jiangsu, Henan and other provinces, providing robust support to applications such as computing, transactions and big data.

Strengthening big data capabilities

China Unicom vigorously cemented its basic big data capabilities, carried through the national big data strategy and implemented the “Big Data Capability Enhancement Plan”. By virtue mainly of proprietary research and development, the Company constructed an open and shared, safe and controllable, and industry-leading big data capability system, in an effort to become a data intelligent service expert trusted by users, as well as a key player in building digital China.

  • Consolidating proprietary research and development capabilities: Through enhancing proprietary modelling capabilities, the Company is capable of PB-level technical data processing as well as real-time analysis and modelling for extremely large datasets. It has developed a matrix of industry models covering 10 industries such as finance and education.

  • Enhancing data asset integration capability: Processing more than 180T incremental data, 16,000 sheets and 500,000 characters per day, the Company has developed an entire life-cycle data management and governance system, and realised value-oriented operation of internal and external tenant data models.

  • Strengthening security capability: Through building a proprietary, safe and controllable big data security system, the Company has been equipped with security management and control capability covering the entire life cycle of data, thereby protecting national data and user privacy.

  • Building basic AI capabilities: Breakthroughs were made in computer vision capabilities for faces, license plates and objects through self-developed AI application innovation platform. As at the end of 2019, we provided more than 20 proprietary capabilities such as face recognition and image recognition/search.

  • Enriching product capabilities: The Company’s products vertically cover finance, public security, population, regulation and other industries and fields, and horizontally constitute a multi-tier product system, serving over 600 tourist attractions, and over 200 government organisations, financial institutions and Internet companies.

The Company initiated the construction of a data middle platform and launched a data security platform internally to enable data interoperability among various scenarios, and expanded data sharing and accessibility to build a data middle platform ecosystem within the Group while ensuring data security. Meanwhile, it started to develop data quality system, with audit ratios for 31 provinces’ online logs remaining below 120%. The establishment of customer insight system, customer scenario perception system and centralised operation system for existing customers has empowered the Company’s marketing efforts and operational decision-making.

Enhancing the value of IoT

Centered on the basic platform, China Unicom’s IoT business aggregated upstream and downstream partners in the value chain for collaborative innovation through connectivity services, application services, component services and solution integration services and contributed to the digital transformation of cities. It strives to become a value enabler in the era of IoT and enable people to enjoy smart life. China Unicom ranked 4th among the world’s top 500 IoT enterprises in 2019.

Strengthening platform development

  • Improving capability of connectivity management platform: The carrying capacity and various capabilities of the cellular connectivity platform were optimised in a continuous manner, with an average of 2.2 billion API calls per month.

  • Building capabilities of equipment management platform: The Company developed capabilities of equipment management platforms for industrial sector, public utilities, safety and others. Currently, the equipment management platforms serve more than 1,000 customers.

  • Advancing application enablement: The Company kept enhancing customer-oriented platform capabilities such as real-name registration system and 2C ordering. Meanwhile, riding on the general demand of the industry and the development of innovative technology, it has built up the vision intelligence (VI) capability.

  • Deepening proprietary platform research system: Having received the CMMI3 certification, the Company’s software sophistication has reached a new level. Thanks to its stronger internal research team, the Company undertook all platform upgrades on its own in 2019.

Accelerating AI Innovation and Empowerment

China Unicom takes artificial intelligence (AI) as an important strategic tool to enhance technological competitiveness and gives full play to the steering role of AI.

  • Self-developed the China Unicom Network AI Experimental Platform and completed the certification of the ITU intelligent network grading standard. China Unicom led the formation of the first ITU-T smart education standard based on next-generation AI technology, and released the ITU-T intelligent network grading standard.

  • Provided support for implementation of more than 10 intelligent applications and related solution design, such as analysis and application of smart work orders and inspection of equipment rooms by smart robots. An AI-based intelligent platform for IPRAN network featuring alarm, analysis and positioning has been put into application, boosting the efficiency by over 85%.

  • Hosted various AI competitions and online AI forums.