PARTNER INTERVIEW: Ahead of Mobile 360 Latin America, Javier Zárate, vice principal of Wireless Marketing LATAM for Huawei (pictured), spoke to Mobile World Live (MWL) about key issues in the rollout of mobile broadband servies in the region, with a particular focus on spectrum.
MWL: Widespread 5G deployments are still some time away. What do you think will be the most important tools for operators to manage spectrum demand ahead of availability of new frequencies?
Javier Zárate: 5G technology will gradually enter the commercial deployment stage in 2020. 5G will present new business opportunities with 100 billion or more IoT connections, provide ultra-highspeed wireless connections built on full-spectrum wireless networks, and deliver a service experience with zero waiting time.
During digital transformation, 4.5G helps carriers develop diverse services in the fields of B2C, B2B, B2H, and B2G. This improves the service experience while increasing high-value connections and expanding business boundaries.
Huawei has proposed the 4.5G Evolution concept to support them in the evolution towards 5G. 4.5G Evolution helps carriers maximise existing network capabilities and supports future-oriented evolution. It contains Go Giga, Go Vertical, and Go Cloud:
Huawei has started to deploy 4.5G in many operators of Latin America, boosting the region into the ehanced mobile broadband (eMBB) new era.
How important will unlicensed spectrum be in meeting customer data needs?
By 2020, the size of the mobile market will reach $2 trillion. Mobile networks need to support ultra-broadband transmission and allow for more flexible, customer-centric innovation. By 2020 there will be 1 billion mobile network access nodes (including macro, micro, WLAN, and unlicensed spectrum) and 40GHz of new spectrum in the bands of less than 100GHz band will be used for MBB.
Unlicensed spectrum will play a big role in the mobile services due the actual spread on mobile networks as Wi-Fi even at milimetric waves as GiWi-Fi. Huawei has been developing technologies to leverage the unlicensed spectrum allowing the operator to provide superior experience to users through technologies including Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) and voice over Wi-Fi/LTE (VoWi-Fi/LTE).
Huawei has worked together with a local operator on a project in Turkey to create the world’s first network ready to use LAA technology.
How important will the availability of harmonised spectrum be to support the rollout of 5G worldwide?
Harmonisation in the telecommunication industry is synonymous with efficient processes and therefore cost improvement: when one spectrum is harmonised around the world the devices can be developed not only for one market. Imagine the potential of the global market. Huawei supports spectrum harmonisation as one of the key vectors for the future of MBB communications.
An example of harmonisation is the case of 700MHz APT, 850MHz, 900MHZ or 1800MHz, which are the most-used frequencies in the world for mobile communication. Huawei, as a provider of radio solutions of 3G or 4G over those spectrum bands and even more the development of 5G networks, has the primary objective to make use of all the IMT spectrum bands.
Which new spectrum bands do you think will be key to future 5G deployments, in order to meet requirements for both coverage and speed?
Huawei has worked with many carriers on the testing and verification of key technologies such as big bandwidth, low latency, and massive connections. Some of our innovation outcomes are already in use. For example, Huawei has deployed Massive MIMO using the C band, we realised over 20Gb/s in a single cell, with an air interface latency of less than 0.5 milliseconds at 200MHz bandwidth. On the millimetre wavelength (mmWave), we achieved 70Gb/s transmission capacity with 2GHz bandwidth. In summary the use of spectrum which gathers large amounts of spectrum, like band C and mmWave, will meet the requirements of the 5G networks in terms of maximum speed.
Regarding coverage, it is well known that low bands deliver wide coverage and one of the limitations is the uplink because the UE radio resources. Huawei has developed the technology combining spectrum in high band and low band by decoupling channels – carrying the uplink in low band and downlink in high band – it is possible to significantly increase the coverage of one cell, supporting the maximum downlink speed provided by the high band and the coverage of the uplink provided by the low band. The use of Massive MIMO also increasing the coverage of the cell in diverse spectrum band.
Does high spectrum pricing reduce investment in, and availability of, mobile broadband services in Latin America?
Of course, as one of the main assets to providing the service, the operators have to find new ways to incorporate the increased cost into their operations due the high cost of the spectrum. It is a big challenge. Many examples in the world demonstrate that the operators’ investment can be hard to justify until the prices are known for the spectrum auction.
The spectrum is the blood of the mobile communications, actually LATAM has low levels of spectrum release for IMT relative to the levels recommended by the ITU. If we add the high cost of the spectrum the mobile operators have to deal with, this creates a big problem if the regulators do not support their investment.
Do you think regulators are working quickly enough to ensure new spectrum reaches the market?
The good news is that many regulators have noted the benefit on their internal economies by developing the telecommunications industry and prepared programmes that include the spectrum as central strategy. It is more than 3 per cent of the GDP growth by increasing penetration of mobile services penetration and, therefore, the use of internet applications on emerging markets noted in the last years. There still way to go, but also the regulators are working towards it.