PARTNER FEATURE: Huawei’s president of the 5G Product Line Ritchie Peng (pictured) highlighted the company’s continued commitment to 5G R&D to enable technical innovation and enhance the user experience of consumers and cater better to the specific needs of industries.

He encouraged operators to deploy high-bandwidth 5G networks, making use of mid-band spectrum as the core, combined with other bands.

With global 5G deployments first launched about two years ago, Huawei is in fact stepping up its R&D investment and also exploring 5.5G to optimise the capabilities of current 5G network technologies, Peng said.

“All the enhancements are aimed at improving 5G technologies to provide better services for both consumers and industries.”

Asked why Huawei hasn’t recently released an update on global 5G contracts, he said real competitiveness isn’t the number of contracts signed, but the performance of the entire network and the value brought to operators.

Speaking at the company’s Global Analyst Summit, Peng said: “R&D capability must be the support behind both customer value and market competitiveness. Huawei has been investing in 5G R&D since 2009. Focusing on the 5G industry direction and continuous investment is the most fundamental factor for product competition in the market.”

He added that its long-term focus and investment have enabled “systematic technological innovation”, including system design, algorithms, software and materials.

“Deep collaboration with customers, combined with our understanding of customer needs, have enabled us to continue to launch new products, with the introduction of the world’s lightest Massive MIMO in 2018 and the release of the first-generation Blade AAU in 2019, and this year the BladeAAU Pro and FDD Massive MIMO products were launched.”

Industry focus
The company carried out more than 5,000 5G tests in 2020 across a wide range of industries, including mining, manufacturing and sea ports, with about 1,000 commercial contracts signed.

During the exploration phase, he said it found industries have common requirements for 5G technologies, with applications broadly classified into four types of services: remote control; machine vision; positioning services; and video backhaul.

Current 5G capabilities meet about 80 per cent of the requirements, such as uplink capability, indoor positioning and local low-latency capability.

“We are confident 5G can provide the basic capabilities to help industry achieve digital transformation. To realise business value and business success is not just a technical issue.”

Peng explained the digitalisation process requires industry standards, an end-to-end industry ecosystem and business models. “The industry needs to work together to promote optimisation. Through these collaborations, we will accelerate 5GtoB scale in some industries and take full advantage of new opportunities brought by 5G to industry digitalisation.”

He said these efforts will continue to be optimised with industry partners this year. “Through this work, we hope 5G to can be implemented in some leading industries as soon as possible or can be used to bring digital capabilities to these industries.”

He noted current 5G capabilities don’t fully support the specialised requirements of all industries. “With 5.5G we want to continuously improve 5G capabilities to meet more industry requirements.”

China experience
By the end of 2021, 5G users in China are expected to reach 500 million, which means the adoption rate on the technology will be much faster than with 4G, he noted. At the same time, 5G handsets account for more than 70 per cent of current shipments, as the price of compatible devices decreases, with relatively low-end 5G devices to be available soon.

In addition, 5G data usage is forecast to account for more than 30 per cent of total mobile traffic by the end of this year.

According to the National Academy of Information Technology, country’s three major mobile players built 700,000 5G base stations in 2020 and plan to deploy another 600,000 this year. The goal is to provide universal coverage to enable consumers to enjoy the full benefits of 5G services.

From a network perspective, Peng said a key factor is 5G enables an improved cross-generation user experience for all consumer services. Currently, 5G in China is constructed based on using 100MHz of spectrum, with the 5G experience improved several times compared with 4G.

To unlock the full potential of 5G capacity, he stressed the most important factor is a network with sufficient mid-band spectrum and continuous coverage.

Previously, networks in Europe used FDD spectrum, which supported 3G and 4G, but the spectrum was narrow. Over the past two years, many European countries have move to C-Band spectrum, which will give operators in the region an opportunity to build robust 5G networks.

Huawei recommends operators build a high-bandwidth 5G network using mid-band spectrum as the core, combined with other bands for differentiated advantages.