OPERATIONS TRANSFORMATION FORUM 2018: Huawei shone a spotlight on the importance of delivering indoor coverage in the 5G era, unveiling a report which predicts such access will be an essential element in operators’ future competitiveness.
The Indoor 5G Networks White Paper, which the vendor produced in conjunction with Hong Kong operator HKT and industry group the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), noted around 80 per cent of mobile usage already occurs indoors and predicted the figure will rise sharply with the next generation technology.
Presenting the report, Huawei ICS Domain general manager Simon Liang (pictured, right) pointed to emerging services including augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR), and smart factories, as examples of applications which will make the indoor element “more and more important”.
While the importance of indoor coverage has increased during the evolution from 2G to 4G, the next generation technology represents a step change as interior access becomes “an essential core of the business of operators”. Adding to the importance is a growing industry consensus that “5G is not 2020: 5G is now”, Liang said.
Sheldon Yau, SVP of wireless network planning and design at HKT (pictured, centre), explained some of the challenges facing operators. For example, while 72 per cent of HKT’s 3,000 cell sites are located outdoors, 81 per cent of its traffic today comes from indoors.
“That means we are building a lot of outdoor sites to cover the indoor location,” Yau said, noting such an approach will fall short in the 5G era because of a lack of propagation.
A slightly more unique challenge facing HKT is that local landlords are reluctant to upgrade legacy kit in buildings, Yau said.
Danny Dicks, a research consultant with the GSA (pictured, left), noted operator trials of 5G have typically focused on the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands, along with massive MIMO. “The thing to notice is that 5G is going to be delivered over multiple spectrum bands, and that’s actually quite important when you’re coming to design your networks.”
To enable new services including VR and telemedicine to take off in the 5G era, the industry “urgently requires further research into the network requirements of indoor 5G services and network deployment strategies,” Dicks noted.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back