PARTNER FEATURE: At MWC Barcelona 2024, Huawei unveiled eight 5.5G innovation practices to help operators build 5.5G multi-path target networks.

Speaking at Huawei Product & Solution Launch 2024 entitled “5.5G is Now, Time to Act”, Cao Ming, President of Huawei Wireless Solution, said the company has been working with industry partners since 2020 to define the vision for 5.5G, and after years of development, the technology has “gone from vision to reality”.

With 5.5G industry elements fully ready, 5.5G commercialisation is accelerating globally, he said.

The Middle East was the first to see commercial 5.5G deployments at scale. In Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America, many operators have successfully achieved 10Gb/s through technical verifications on live networks. In China, 5Gb/s capability verification was completed in more than 20 provinces, preparing for commercial rollouts this year.

Cao identifies three main spectrum paths to 5.5G. Operators can either make use of TDD large-bandwidth multi-carrier resources, maximise the spectral efficiency of existing FDD spectrum through multi-band convergence or deploy mmWave, upper-6GHz spectrum in hotspot areas on demand to achieve capability of 10Gb/s.

Huawei’s full series of 5.5G GigaGreen products and solutions, with Native Giga and Native Green capabilities, enable operators to take a multi-band path to 5.5G across all bands, delivering gigabit speeds performance and high energy savings, he said.

With joint development across the industry, its GigaGreen series, launched in October 2023, helps global operators open the door to 5.5G. The series delivers “the best performance with the least resources”, Cao said. With the simplified, green and efficient O&M solution, operators “can move seamlessly towards in the 5.5G era”.

GigaGreen innovations
Huawei uses multi-band extremely large antenna arrays (ELAAs) to build high-speed networks. Its MetaAAU with ELAA technology improves coverage and experience for TDD bands.

This year, the 64T MetaAAU was upgraded from single- to multi-band. As the industry’s only dual-band MetaAAU, with a unique design of antenna elements, it can integrate two bands in one box to help reuse antenna space, Cao stated. MetaAAU with ELAA enables continuous coverage and multi-band, simplified networks. In China, the Middle East, and many other places, MetaAAU has been implemented for multi-carrier TDD capability verification, demonstrating its ability to simplify site construction while providing continuous 5Gb/s.

For FDD bands, Huawei ultra-wideband platform was upgraded to support all bands and all scenarios. Huawei provides FDD 8T8R and Massive MIMO products that support native GHz ultra-high bandwidth, allowing for maximum FDD spectral and energy efficiencies. In Cambodia, the triple-band 8T8R solution improves coverage by 6dB and reduces power consumption by 30 per cent compared with 4T6S. In Malaysia, triple-band Massive MIMO increases capacity by four-times and traffic by 1.5-times for 4G, while allowing for a seven-times capacity boost with 5G.

Since mmWave offers ultra-large bandwidth, the spectrum is a key band for a 5.5G 10Gb/s experience, Cao stated. Huawei integrated its mmWave active antenna unit (AAU) with more than 2,000 elements, the largest in the industry. The company also upgraded the beamforming algorithm to support a four-times beam density. With the collaboration of software and hardware, the mmWave AAU can realise continuous coverage with 10Gb/s. In many countries including Finland and China, mmWave has shown a smooth, stable 10Gb/s performance in mobility scenarios, he said.

With the move to 5.5G, the indoor experience has become more important. In high-density indoor scenarios, such as airports, stadiums and shopping malls, the traffic density can be more than 100-times compared with outdoor conditions. Huawei’s LampSite X covering all bands, including sub-6GHz and mmWave, supports bandwidth up to 1.6GHz, delivering 10Gb/s and diverse capabilities.

Cao stated Huawei’s 5.5G full-series equipment is Native Green that supports “0 Bit 0 Watt”, setting a new network benchmark in the 5.5G era. In idle mode, the equipment can wake-up within seconds, and the power consumption is less than 10 watts. In active state, energy consumption can be reduced by 30 per cent without experience loss. In Zhejiang, China, “0 Bit 0 Watt” was successfully verified on live networks and achieved optimal energy savings.

Huawei recently launched the Eco series antennas, which improves all-band energy efficiency by 20 per cent under various configurations across different areas. It also introduced the Marconi antenna, the industry’s first low-wind-load and digital version. It supports two-dimensional beam adjustment and remote acquisition of site engineering parameters, which can eliminate site visits, helping operators reduce OPEX. In Saudi Arabia, the Marconi antenna has enabled customers to reduce rents by 50 per cent.

The development of 5.5G networks also requires the upgrade of transmission networks. Huawei’s next-generation MAGICSwave supports such a move. For urban, suburban and backbone networks, all-scenario microwave backhaul is now based on the 2T architecture, meeting the requirements for on-demand capacity expansion towards 5.5G.

The E-band is crucial for urban areas. Huawei’s new 2T E-band kit brings the performance to a new level. Cao said “it provides a maximum of 50Gb/s backhaul capacity without additional spectrum.”

In addition, in backbone scenarios, algorithm and material innovation greatly simplify complex hardware configuration to make full use of low-band fragmented spectrum, he said.

Lastly, in the 5.5G era, intelligence is an important feature of the network. Huawei’s IntelligentRAN incorporates large communication models and RAN digital twin systems to support layer 4 network intelligence. It has been verified in multiple provinces in China, helping operators reduce network costs and increase efficiencies.

“Huawei’s GigaGreen full-series solutions provide the most powerful performance with minimal resource consumption, helping operators sustain success in the 5.5G era with networks that offer the highest performance and energy efficiency,” concluded Cao.