LIVE FROM OPERATIONS TRANSFORMATION FORUM 2017, HONG KONG: Huawei unveiled its indoor coverage digitalisation business solution, designed to overcome the key challenges of delivering reliable indoor coverage and expand the range of services operators and building owners can provide.
In a roundtable session Ruguo Zheng, CMO of global services at Huawei’s global technical service department, said delivering high quality indoor coverage in homes and public areas including transportation hubs, shopping centres, hotels and cinemas, is increasingly important in an era when people want to access data-heavy services including online gaming or HD video.
Such services “require high speed bandwidth and high-speed experience” Zheng noted, adding the requirements will only increase with the rollout of 5G technology and services such as AR and VR.
Mobile data traffic from indoor locations is tipped to rise at a CAGR of 49 per cent in the coming years, with more than 70 per cent of “skyrocketing” data traffic generated indoors, according to GSMA Mobile Economy forecasts.
However, current approaches to providing indoor coverage are limited by factors including difficulties in gaining access to the sites in order to install the many cables required. The approach also requires “a lot of antennas to guarantee the coverage”.
Zheng said Return on Investment (RoI) is a “critical” challenge, because operators “are not so willing to invest a lot on indoor network constructions” if there is no clear means of earning the money back in a timely fashion. He noted it typically takes seven years to begin to see a return on investment on indoor coverage projects.
The executive explained Huawei’s indoor coverage solution is already overcoming those challenges, noting deployments in Australia, China and Mexico are typically cutting the time taken to enjoy return on investment to three-and-a-half years.
A key element in Huawei’s indoor system is Easy Pole, a portable set up which can quickly be deployed by connecting to fibre to offer wireless coverage, phone charging and even a billboard enabling landlords to recoup some of their investment through advertising.
An Easy Pole deployment in a Panama immigration office conducted for Cable and Wireless without site access costs saw 56GB of data downloaded on the first day of use, Zheng said.
In China, a deployment of Huawei’s indoor coverage solution is also enabling operators to offer new services to shopping centre owners, including smart parking information and tailored offers for stores, while also improving efficiency by enabling customer flows to be monitored.
While Zheng faced questions regarding user data privacy, he noted such protections are the responsibility of the mobile operator or landlord. Huawei, as the enabler of indoor coverage, collects no end-user information: “What we provide is consulting, planning and integration,” he explained.
Huawei plans to expand its indoor portfolio over the next five years through increased investment in R&D, and close cooperation with industry partners, operators and landlords.
The company is certainly well placed to offer indoor services. “Globally we have already built around 53,000 indoor sites”, Zheng said.