PARTNER FEATURE: Huawei made use of its presence at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) to further outline its network technology visions and unveil the products it hopes will turn such visions into a reality.

During its press conference, Huawei set out two fundamental concepts for future network technology: 5Gigaverse for ubiquitous experiences, and 5Green for low-carbon growth. And to achieve its ambitions, it is focusing on four technologies: multi-antenna, ultra-wideband, intelligence, and simplification for all network deployment scenarios.

Gan Bin, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei Wireless Solution, commented that while 5G’s large-bandwidth and multi-antenna technologies have brought tangible benefits, “we do not stop here; instead, we move ahead and continue to innovate in these two areas.”

Indeed, the company has now introduced third-generation Massive MIMO and FDD ultra-wideband multi-antenna portfolios to further improve network performance and energy efficiency. “They greatly boost operator confidence in building high-quality and green 5G networks,” Gan said.

Another highlight here is Huawei’s IntelligentRAN. According to Gan Bin, this architecture brings intelligence to almost all aspects of a wireless network by using the Mobile Intelligent Engine (MIE) to enable network autonomy.

TDD third-generation Massive MIMO – Doubling the dipoles from 192 to 384
Huawei’s third-generation TDD Massive MIMO series includes the MetaAAU and BladeAAU. Gan explained that the third-generation Massive MIMO products double the amount of array dipoles or antenna elements in second-generation products from 192 to 384. “As a result, they can enhance experience by 30 per cent, improve coverage by 3 dB, and also reduce power consumption by 30 per cent,” he said.

Gan noted that doubling the number of dipoles required innovation across many areas of hardware and software, including antennas, channels, and some RF components.

“If we just doubled them from the start, the better performance would come with a massive increase in weight, size, and cost, which operators cannot accept and afford,” he said. “We went to work making improvements on hardware, software, and algorithms. We succeeded in 2021, when these technologies were finally mature enough to double the number of dipoles to bring significant benefits to operators with a minor weight increase. So, we launched MetaAAU, the third-generation Massive MIMO.”

MetaAAU became commercially available in August 2021. Gan said the product has so far been deployed in 20 cities in China and is being used by the three main Chinese operators. A more widescale deployment in both China and overseas markets is expected from this year. Huawei’s BladeAAU series, meanwhile, facilitates the simplified deployment of all sub-6 GHz frequency bands in all network scenarios.

Dual support for FDD ultra-wideband multi-antenna
A different approach is required for FDD spectrum. Gan explained that FDD spectrum is fragmented, and also used to support 4G traffic, which is still increasing.

Huawei is therefore using ultra-wideband technologies to significantly improve operators’ ROI in FDD by reconstructing multiple bands at the same time. Secondly, it is bringing multi-antenna technology into FDD to provide benefits for both 4G and 5G.

The FDD ultra-wideband multi-antenna products include the wideband 4T4R RRU, which supports the simplified deployment of 700–900MHz and 1.8–2.6/1.4GHz multi-band networks and dynamic power sharing across all modes, improving user experience by 30 per cent and reducing power consumption by 30 per cent. Gan said the product has been successfully trialled in a commercial network in the Nordic region.

Furthermore, the industry’s first high-power ultra-wideband 8T8R uses the combination of 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz to provide equivalent coverage to the sub-1GHz band, benefiting both 4G and 5G networks by increasing their capacity by 1.6 and 3 times, respectively.

Added intelligence the debut of IntelligentRAN architecture
Gan said Huawei has been investigating network intelligence for several years, and believes it is now the right time to bring intelligence into wireless networks.

“We are now putting forward the IntelligentRAN architecture, which includes iService for agile provisioning, iOperation for zero network faults, and iNetwork for optimal experience and energy efficiency,” he said.

He noted that the MIE, described as “essential” to the IntelligentRAN, has two parts: MIE-NRT, for providing non-real-time functions like data training, data modelling, and strategy making; and MIE-RT at the site layer, for providing real-time prediction and execution.

He added: “Some people may ask about the relationship between IntelligentRAN and ADN. ADN is the framework of Huawei’s ICT automation solution. Under this framework, IntelligentRAN is the implementation of ADN in the wireless network.”

Typical use cases based on IntelligentRAN architecture include improving the user experience of wireless networks with base station intelligence, energy saving, accurate provisioning and reliable SLA, and zero fault and zero downtime networks.

“Looking into the future, wireless networks will continue to enable more industries and services. By launching IntelligentRAN, we want to make the wireless network intelligent to accelerate industry digitalisation,” Gan said.

“We look forward to working with operators and industry partners to achieve this goal as early as possible,” he said.