PARTNER FEATURE: GSMA & Huawei share insight into how 5G rollouts are impacting industry verticals and enterprise innovation in the APAC region.

At Huawei’s Win Win Live in Bangkok in October, Mobile World Live caught up with Sean Xu, CMO of the Carrier Business Group at Huawei’s Asia Pacific Division, and Julian Gorman, head of Asia Pacific for the GSMA, for insight into how 5G rollouts are impacting industry verticals and enterprise innovation.

Three years since the launch of 5G in APAC, Julian pointed to growing momentum towards sustainable use-case development, with a rapid rise in interest in private networks as the foundation for 5G innovation.

“I should note the structure of the collaboration and partnerships that is driving the innovation and use cases is starting to mature,” with business owners looking to have control of the network deployment and have the operator of the network part of the use-case development, he stated.

Many of the early use cases such as ports, airports, hospitals and manufacturing remain at the top of the list as the most fertile areas of innovation.

Huawei’s Sean Xu emphasised that 5G networks have already shown strong capability to support a range of industries, with more than 3,000 private networks in China and overseas, incorporating the 5G technology to deliver a proven convergent network in various industries, such as factory campuses, hospitals and mining sites since last year.

He gave examples of successful 5G network deployments at hospitals in Thailand and Hong Kong supporting critical applications. Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority specified that 5G is a mandatory requirement for suppliers in submitting smart hospital proposals, with ten public hospitals in the territory implementing 5G networks.

“We believe that the 5G adoption momentum will be extended in more industries and 5G will be deployed in more countries,” Sean Xu said.

APAC Community
Julian gave a progress update on the GSMA’s APAC 5G Industry Community formed in October 2021, highlighting the group now includes more than 700 participating organisations and 2,000 individuals from 66 countries, making it the fastest-growing community managed by GSMA in the Asia-Pacific region.

He explained participation actually extends well beyond the borders of Asia Pacific, underscoring interest in the region is significant and acknowledged APAC is a major part of the global 5G ecosystem. “Many of our members also are from outside the traditional domain of mobile industry and are new to the GSMA.”

The initiative has been focused on a few key verticals, such as manufacturing, logistics, transport and healthcare. But as the technology matures, and new use cases get more specialised and diversified, Julian said it is seeing new and existing industry associations or alliances developed to focus on specific parts of those verticals.

The Community was set up to response to demand from industry, government and innovators for an industry platform where parties could come together and share experiences, find business partners and accelerate the adoption of 5G and IoT cases, he stated.

It launched with dozen of founding partners, including Huawei, and leveraged the APAC IoT Innovation Partner Programme.

Sean Xu added that the Community has already demonstrated its core function by building collaboration across the 5G ecosystem. It has organised a series of in-depth workshops, with 5G specialists, government and professionals in the medical, transportation and manufacturing industries sharing insights.

“Most importantly, the Community is an open platform and welcomes members from across high-end tech industries to comment as well as help customers to publish their successful 5G use cases.”

He wants to see more members join and share their experiences to help others understand the technologies and applications to speed up 5G ecosystem development.

Next steps
Looking ahead, Julian believes the next 6-12 months is going to be an extraordinarily exciting period for 5G, IoT and the APAC 5G Industry Community.

He pointed out that the Community’s history has been mostly written during the period of Covid, when it’s been restricted to webinars and online engagement.

“We’re moving ahead with preparations for MWC Barcelona. It will be a place to share and learn about what has been done with 5G. Before Covid, we were largely talking about what could come in the future.”

Julian added the GSMA also has had a successful return to physical events in Asia Pacific, with APAC M360 drawing a large audience in Singapore in August.

“The two events form the core of our plans for the Community to come together under the GSMA umbrella. A key focus for the year ahead also is to bring the power of the GSMA and APAC 5G Industry Community to the events and activity of our alliance members and industry events where innovation is leading.”

He noted the GSMA will continue to host online webinars, providing a platform for people even in the most remote areas to interact and advance their own knowledge. In addition, it also will step up promotions of pioneers or case study reports and highlight how leading alliances are actually nurturing ecosystems, which will help expand the footprint of 5G across APAC and the world.

Turning to the topic of 5.5G, Sean Xu emphasised connecting everything is a major extension of 5G. “Huawei’s mission is to bring digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected intelligent world. The move to 5.5G actually is only an enhancement for better customer experience.”

He explained the upgrade won’t affect existing deployments of 5G services and applications. “In short, 5.5G is our vision for the industry, extending the three standard 5G scenarios as defined by the ITU: eMBB, mMTC and URLLC. The new scenarios enabled by 5.5G will create new value for social development and industry upgrade.”

Sean Xu added it is supporting the community with online and offline sessions and talking to key industry customers and related alliances to expand the adoption of 5G. “This will help industry users understand their specific needs and develop a better service roadmap and digitalisation plans. Huawei is looking forward to working with industry partners to define 5.5G and build a better and intelligent world.

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