PARTNER FEATURE: A panel of wireless experts at Huawei’s Global Analyst Summit highlighted the swift changes in user behaviour new 5G services have spurred in just two years, with declining handset prices and rising network capabilities set to further disrupt both the consumer and enterprise markets and fuel growth across the ecosystem.

Ritchie Peng, president of Huawei’s 5G Product Line (pictured, left), insisted new 5G services can only be a commercial success by delivering a superior experience compared with 4G, which requires the joint efforts of the industry in developing networks, devices and applications.

In just two years, 5G has developed rapidly across 61 countries, with average data usage per subscriber doubling in many areas. “This clearly indicates that users’ consumption and usage habits have changed.”

Applications are more interactive with the use of VR and AR features and video viewing more realistic with more widespread availability of HD and 4K content.

“This has changed and drastically improved the application experience of all consumers.”

Peng said as new devices and applications reach the market together with more advanced network capabilities, the overall user experience in the 5G era will continue to improve.

Cross-generational experience is the key to 5GtoC business
Eric Zhao, VP at Nreal (pictured, right), said each technological change brings new experiences and business models, with “4G leading us to the mobile internet era, which revolutionised our lives through ubiquitous connectivity and information consumption”.

With 5G, he said its technical capabilities of supporting massive connections, low latency and large bandwidth, together with mixed reality (MR), will usher in a new era, which Nreal calls the spatial internet.

“The feature of spatial internet is that as a consumer I can naturally wear my MR glasses and view content on a large, ultra-high-definition mobile screen, and even enjoy 3D applications anytime, anywhere, any angle. That’s the brand new experience that we’ve seen consumers enjoying.”

Zhang Xiaojun, CEO of EasyAR (pictured, right), pointed out there are two ways to improve the app experience for users. The first is existing apps can be enhanced incrementally, such adding higher definition, speeding up uploads and supporting more concurrent users. The second is disruptive experience improvement, and in the AR industry that is moving to immersive experiences, which can be a revolutionary transformation.

“Only a disruptive user experience can bring about major change.”

All previous interactive experiences provided by the internet and mobile internet are flat and touch-based interactions, he said.

“AR can bring us spatial, three-dimensional and intuitive interactive experiences. All applications will be redeveloped with new interaction experience powered by AR, which will bring enormous marketing prospects and opportunities for both the consumer market and the low-end application market.”

The emergence of lower price 5G devices and new types of terminals is promoting application innovation
Zhao acknowledged in the consumer space 5G in the very earlier stage “had all kind of issues”, such as immature technologies, high costs and insufficient content, noting the technology requires a collaborative ecosystem.

“These issues are being addressed gradually. Nreal is cooperating with global operators as well as Huawei to that end.”

He believes the most critical factor to succeed with consumers will be to provide an innovative experience, but one that evolves from existing experiences and content, rather than a completely disruptive and new one.

“The experience we want is to be able to project to millions of Android apps directly through mobile phones, so that there is little extra investment for content and app developers,” he said.

This approach can save the trouble of redeveloping the content and applications.

In terms of pricing, Nreal’s latest AR glasses have dropped to about $500, and in six months after releasing the next generation, the price will drop below $400, about CNY3000.

“We believe the price of such devices and 5G handsets have basically reached an acceptable level for consumers.”

Zhang stressed the need for open platforms to nurture the app ecosystem because it’s impossible to predict where the next innovative or popular app will come from.

“From our perspective, apps may be created by a giant, many start-ups or individual developers. Our mission is to enable many developers and enterprises to create more possibilities, more applications on a very convenient platform.”

With many apps in the pipeline, he argued it is more likely to develop a powerful one that will influence more people.

New 5G terminals, new applications and new network capabilities will comprehensively improve the consumer experience
Huawei’s Peng emphasised with massive innovation in applications across the world, it needs to continually improve network capabilities through various innovation activities to support AR, VR and other leapfrog experiences.

“To do that we first work with all operators to improve 5G coverage. Ensuring basic network coverage anytime, anywhere is the most important thing. I’m not only talking about indoor coverage, but also outdoor.”

In addition to addressing coverage, he said it also focuses on new network capabilities, such as enhanced uplink capability. Better uplink capacity is not only good for uploading videos via mobile phones, it also helps improve the user experience in the downlink as well.

The executive also noted low-latency capabilities are needed for the entire network and many IoT-oriented services. “These capabilities need to be continuously built. In this process, we will work with our partners on content creation, and on bringing value through applications and even devices.”