Mountain venues pose dramatic tech challenges
High mountains, strong winds, ice and extremely low temperatures are all factors that can challenge the smooth operation of a telecommunications network.
But despite such obstacles, a superfast 5G network has been built to withstand difficult conditions in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, one of the primary sites for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
It is part of a broader effort by Chinese telecom carriers to build a stable and fast 5G network to ensure the smooth operation of the Olympics and a stable broadcast environment for the global audience for the Games.
All core sites in Zhangjiakou, which is co-hosting the Games with Beijing, now have 5G network coverage. Also, a very fast, three-gigabit network is expected to cover the entire Zhangjiakou area, said Liu Huaxue, deputy director of the 2022 Winter Olympics office of China Unicom, the official telecom service provider for the Games.
Even with all the advances in technology, the Games have presented a mountain of challenges. The biggest challenge in constructing such a network lies in the harsh environment, especially strong winds and snow, Liu said. At Haituo Mountain, one of the game sites, the company had to cover the high, barren terrain with a web of optical fiber, the total length of which would encircle the Earth 3.6 times, the company said.
China Unicom plans to deploy over 10,000 terminals and nearly 5,000 employees across the Games' different sites, Liu said.
At the Yanqing National Sliding Center in Beijing, setting up video cameras along 217 points of the mountainous track has been extremely difficult and complicated, said Wu Junfeng, telecommunications manager of China Unicom's telecom project at the center. In order to protect cameras in temperatures reaching -30 C, the company developed an insulated outdoor box to ensure the equipment operates normally, Wu said.
"The rapid development of communications technology will strongly support the coming 2022 Beijing Olympic Games and will enable audiences to experience the unique charm of the Olympics in multiple dimensions," said Yu Hong, technology head of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
"In terms of media broadcasting, China will offer the world cloud broadcasting that integrates cloud technology, big data, 5G, artificial intelligence and other technologies, in other words, a real-time, ultrahigh definition and immersive experience," Yu said.
Using the 5G network, reporters are able to conduct mobile interviews on the high-speed rail and engage in live, high-definition mobile broadcasts, she said.
Full 5G coverage also will be available on the highway from Beijing to Zhangjiakou, officials said. The Beijing subsidiary of China Tower Corp, in charge of the highway 5G signal project, said that it coordinated with the country's three major telecom operators to install base stations for wireless 5G coverage along the route. The 75-kilometer highway traverses the mountains between the two cities.
The country also has built a high-speed railway line between Beijing and Chongli equipped with 5G service and wireless charging.
By the year's end, the network of 5G base stations will cover the whole area inside Beijing's Fifth Ring Road and the city's Tongzhou district subcenter to enable applications such as autonomous driving in certain places.
"In addition to the Games, the improvement of telecom technologies has also advanced the technological progress of cities and driven urban development as a whole. As full-band 5G networks will be applied in more scenarios, more sectors will see great improvement," Yu said.
"The 5G network will promote the development of the internet of vehicles, and patients in remote, mountainous areas are expected to receive precise assistance from doctors in big cities through the 5G network," she added.
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