PARTNER CONTENT: James Zeng, president of Huawei’s Microwave Product Line (pictured), opened up on the company’s vision for microwave backhaul, and how new innovations in the sector are contributing to a smooth evolution to pave the way towards 5.5G.

At this year’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Dubai, UAE, Huawei emphasised work being done across its microwave products to enable efficient 5.5G construction. Among its latest offerings, the company pushed its new platform, MAGICSwave, which can serve to upgrade transport networks and support ultra-wideband and multi-channel technology to boost backhaul efficiency, meanwhile helping telcos achieve a simplified network.

A key feature of the solution is an ability to deliver higher capacity with simplified architecture for urban areas, longer transmission distance in suburban locations, and long scenarios, enabling networks to sustain evolution over the next decade.

For James Zeng, the importance of these innovations is summed up by the fact that operators can plan investments for upgrading and expanding their backhaul network without hardware disruptions, relying on the future proof concept of Huawei MAGICSwave that allows a very smooth evolution.

Smooth Evolution
James highlighted the current problem which Huawei is seeking to address. One of the biggest challenges facing telcos is, for example, moving from 4G to 5G. From this evolution alone, 15 per cent to 20 per cent of microwave links must be reconstructed every year, “creating an investment loss for telcos”.

“If a telco today plans to deploy a new microwave link for their 4G sites, it won’t be long before there is a need to upgrade to 5G.  As new applications emerge and urbanization accelerates, it becomes more and more difficult for operators to accurately estimate future traffic in the transmission link planning phase. Both aggressive and conservative initial capacity reservation may lead to a waste of investment if the microwave system does not have smooth evolution capability. That’s why Huawei is introducing the new MAGICSwave platform: with it, there is no need to make additional investments in a brand new hardware system when they are upgrading to 5G – instead they only pay for the capabilities they need through software or card/RF level hardware upgrade, and all those require a platform with strong smooth evolution capability.”

Work on microwave upgrades will continue throughout this year and beyond. James explained the company will launch a new platform, MAGICSwave, to the market later in 2023, marking significant progress in smooth evolution capabilities and beyond.

With it, there is no need to make additional investments in a brand new hardware system when operators are upgrading to 5G – instead they only pay for the capabilities they need through software or card/RF level hardware upgrade.

A simplified target network
For urban scenarios, James put the priority on E-band technology investment, targeting 25Gb/s bandwidth with unique 2T2R design to save the hardware quantity, which would put it in a position to meet backhaul capacity requirements of 5G and 5.5G in the future for dense populated areas.

For suburban scenarios, Huawei’s new Carrier Aggregation (CA) can enlarge the deployable scope of this technology through a wideband IBW feature, thus operators can enjoy the benefits of it more widely (such as hardware simplification and future smooth upgrade capability).

For backbone long haul scenarios, Huawei makes it as light as short haul, for example, only radios for a typical 8+0 link. For the very first time, operators can enjoy the benefits of CA and high Tx Power at the same time without system gain loss in long haul scenarios.

Furthermore, Huawei’s MAGICSwave platform can reduce antenna quantity and size, as well as RF units, up to 75 per cent, while supporting the smooth evolution from 4G, to 5G, 5.5G and beyond.

“We hope that by releasing this new technology to the market, microwave is able to be simple for today and support the next decade’s evolution of networks,” said James.

Protect investment and fit for all
Interestingly, James dived deeper into the capabilities of Huawei’s microwave solutions today, stating that, as a technology, it is much stronger than what 4G and 5G currently needed it to be.

James reiterated the fact that Huawei is working on introducing new concepts from the microwave sector “so that telco investments can be protected”.

“They only need to pay for the capabilities that are relevant to them, when they are evolving into the future,” he said.

Huawei’s commitment to investment in microwave is absolute, added the executive. “We have learnt that more than 60 per cent of base stations are benefiting from microwave backhaul. Microwave will remain a primary backhaul technology and it allows telcos to modernise and deploy base stations fast,” added James.

While explaining requirements for backhaul differ for telcos and are also different for various network technologies, James also noted that as it serves varying wireless sites, there is a need to take into account different phases of demand across geographical markets.

“Microwave needs to be able to support all telcos, in all markets. These include: pioneering 5G regions such as the Middle East, China, South Korea and Japan; European telcos that are now deploying 5G and the third wave of 5G coming from countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia.”

Connecting the unconnected
Summing up the overall benefits of microwave, James was also keen to emphasise that the solutions are not just for advanced 4G, 5G and 5.5G networks, but are also serving to bridge the digital divide.

“As a modern wireless backhaul technology, microwave bears the mission to offer access to remote areas, including mountainous locations and across underdeveloped markets. Huawei is trying to increase the cost competitiveness and the performance of our solutions, so that it can connect the unconnected.”