Smart cities: Beyond connectivity, it’s about changing the future, says Huawei innovation chief

Huawei outlines smart city vision

13 MAY 2015

LIVE FROM BROADBAND ASIA, SINGAPORE: Chinese vendor giant Huawei today claimed the world is just at the first stage of the journey to smart cities, with a lot of information being gathered but not used very effectively because we haven’t yet connected vertical markets.

John Frieslaar (pictured), Huawei’s director of strategy and innovation, said he thinks smart cities is a journey that goes from connected cities, to smart cities to intelligent cities, which ultimately will be more sustainable.

“The journey is all about how you use the data, moving from using data to understanding what happened, to using it to change the future,” he said.

Delivering a keynote at the event, Frieslaar noted that it’s not about connectivity or broadband anymore. “It’s about digital transformation – how do we get the information and what do we do with it.”

In terms of smart services, he said many city councils are doing interesting and innovative things that are forcing the telecoms community to sit up and take note and figure out the new types of services that are required from the networks.

Trends like autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and 3D printing are impacting the way networks are developed and deployed.

Frieslaar said the broadband architecture for 2020 will be built on a number of major components such as 5G radio access, software defined networks that allow the granular switching of traffic flows, network function virtualisation and storing things in the cloud.

The main reason behind all this, he explained, is the demand to accelerate business through faster network innovation cycles and more rapid development of new services.

Smart cities are becoming a major driver of Huawei’s growth around the world, he said. “Cities like London are gong to the likes of BT and saying ‘can you provide me with these services, because right now your portfolio is not what I really want’.”

City councils agree that free WiFi access is important to engage with citizens and to spur economic growth. “Clearly from a telecommunications perspective, their needs are changing and a traditional telecoms portfolio of services is probably not what they want in the future. It’s the Internet of Things and the cloud of things that they’ll want over the next five years,” he said.

The IoT market is predicted to have 50 billion devices by 2025. He noted that the world manufactures more than one trillion industrial devices each year, so the potential of IoT could be far in excess of 50 billion.

He added that as we move into the IoT world with autonomous vehicles, processing needs to be more local. Networks will have to have at least two macro base stations in the area to provide redundancy. “The whole dynamic of how we build networks has to change.”


Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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