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Sailing on Blue B2B Oceans with 5G

Tech synergy in 5 tech domains will power digitalization and 5G B2B services.

By Sun Pengfei, 5GtoB Solutions, ICT Strategy & Marketing, Huawei

Synergizing five tech domains

5G’s convergence with cloud, AI, computing, and industry applications will accelerate the digitalization of all industries and pave the way to a digital society. Without this convergence, 5G B2B cannot be achieved. 

B2B,5G

In remote control scenarios, for example, the integrated application of multiple technologies is required to reduce customer costs, increase revenue, and improve problem-solving efficiency. The technologies involved include HD camera recording, 5G backhaul, the video analysis platform, the PLC control platform, and remote control applications. After they are integrated and coordinated, these technologies need to be iterated and widely applied in key scenarios such as mines, ports, factories, and campuses. Without any one of the five tech domains, synergy cannot exist.

As this synergy presents opportunities for all industries, Huawei is committed to working with partners to create new industry value worth trillions of dollars through industry digital transformation.

5G B2B: Typical applications

With 5G applications now widely used in enterprise production systems, some 5G features, like large uplink bandwidth, low latency, multi-connection, high-precision positioning, and MEC, have been widely applied in certain key scenarios.

Wire removal: The removal of wires is essential in scenarios that involve large amounts of mobile equipment where fixed networks cannot be used, such as when equipment and tools used for scanning, collection, and detection (that is, mobile equipment on tracks in factories and warehouses, robots in production lines, and mobile consoles) are used in an enterprise's production system.

Wireless broadband: The models and standards of traditional enterprise private networks aren’t unified, which creates many challenges using and maintaining networks. Enterprises face high costs to deploy and operate multiple independent private networks, complex last-mile transmission scenarios involving high demand and frequent updates, and other challenging scenarios that aren’t suitable for wired networks. Therefore, enterprises need 5G private networks to address these pain points.

High-density IoT: An enterprise's production system requires high numbers of devices, materials, vehicles, and personnel to be connected, which in turn needs many different types of sensors that can be used in challenging environments. 5G networks can support access to high-density IoT and data collection on personnel, machines, objects, and the environment.

Remote PLC control: Many industries have challenging operating environments that need to be improved.

Video surveillance upgrades: Currently, the resolution of surveillance cameras in many enterprise campuses and factories is 480p or 720p, which is insufficient for precise recognition.

Mobile high-risk inspections: Challenging inspection scenarios in many industries must be improved to help both inspectors and enterprises. Mobile inspections conducted by robots will need to replace manual inspections around the clock to eliminate safety risks in factories.

High-precision positioning: Many enterprise campuses and factories need AGVs, intelligent tallying, and personnel and equipment monitoring that require high-precision positioning.

5G B2B must thus be deployed in selected industries based on regional characteristics and key scenarios that can create commercial value.

Streamlining for 5G B2B rollout

To achieve business success in 5G B2B, we must fully understand industries, starting with the application of 5G B2B services in digital transformation scenarios. Based on industry development and the industry ecosystem, as well as network capabilities, Huawei will work with carriers, equipment vendors, integrators, ISVs, and developers to provide services for end enterprise customers.

First, understanding is the cornerstone for 5G to penetrate industries. Each industry has its own scenarios and is at a different stage of digitalization. The ICT industry should collaborate with leading enterprises and industry experts in traditional industries to combine 5G technologies with industry ecosystems and develop corresponding solutions based on detailed analyses of industry conditions and requirements, solving enterprises' problems.

Second, we should build a prosperous industry ecosystem. 5G industry applications need to integrate CT/IT/OT technologies and converge with 5G, cloud, AI, smart devices, and industry applications. With immature value chain development and complex business models, the cultivation of a long-term ecosystem is a must.

The 5G B2B industry value chain stretches far and involves many players. To empower various industries, it's essential to integrate numerous applications, aggregate ecosystems, and build a platform shared by ecosystems. This will make products easier to purchase, activate, operate, maintain, and apply during secondary development. This model can be easily replicated by businesses.

The cloud-edge ecosystem is hugely important. Industry applications deployed in campuses or factories must align with the application ecosystem built around the central cloud to achieve sharing among ecosystems and flexible deployment.

Third, we must design a mature business model that fairly distributes value and benefits. The 5G B2B industry value chain, which adopts a multi-party transaction model, is complex, making the business cycle extremely long. Therefore, there is a need to simplify the business model by integrating cloud services, application ecosystems, and 5G networks to improve efficiency. At the same time, efforts should be made to ensure benefits are fairly distributed across the value chain. Those who shoulder greater responsibility should receive greater rewards.

A reasonable "value-based pricing" mechanism must be established to drive innovation. The pricing of 5G services must be set based on the value they bring to customers as 5G works to establish its presence in businesses' production systems. This will contribute to positive business growth and attract more players to the 5G market.

Fourth, technical and industry standards are required. The standardization of 5G B2B services, including R16, R17, and 5.5G, should be promoted.

It is necessary to develop industry specifications to open up 5G B2B network capabilities, such as 5G Network-as-a-Service (NaaS), slicing, MEC, and network function architecture and specifications. These include CSMF/NSMF, NEF, open northbound interface, and the interface that enables industry applications to call network-wide capabilities.

Standards for regulating the operations of 5G B2B industry solutions must be developed to facilitate sales, covering on-shelf 5G networks, cloud services, and industry applications. The GSMA Operator Platform is one example.

Fifth, the implementation of industry policies should be advanced. Industry policies must be up to date and strategic arrangements must be made in advance – a favorable regulatory and policy environment is key to the healthy growth of the 5G B2B industry.

Measures such as establishing 5G industry funds, adopting intellectual property protection policies, and building a compound talent cultivation system will go a long way towards helping the 5G B2B industry to achieve scale development.

Sixth, we must strive to meet the key technical requirements of industries. We should focus on the network capabilities required to support business functions, including high-quality performance, business isolation, security, and reliability. This includes remote control for ports, large bandwidth with a latency of 10 to 20 ms for ensuring security in campuses, high upload speeds for AI-based quality inspections in manufacturing, network slicing to achieve business isolation in factories, highly reliable private wireless and transmission networks, and MEC for factories and campuses. Specific technical requirements include:

  • Demand for cloud services such as AI-powered learning and analytical capabilities, and on-premise cloud.
  • Demand for industry applications, including remote control for functions such as wheel cranes and overhead cranes, campus solutions, and AR remote assistance.
  • SLAs for enterprises, which covers the division of responsibilities between network, cloud, and industry application providers and E2E SLAs.
  • Demand for the self-service and self-management of network services such as slice management, MEC management, and not transferring data off campus.

Using existing advantages in partnerships

Based on our expertise in connectivity, computing, and digital transformation, Huawei joined forces with players along the industry value chain to build a B2B business model comprising sales, marketing, and services; a solutions platform; and converged device, network, cloud, and edge solutions. This collaboration can increase the deep integration of 5G within various industries and promote the development of commercial 5G B2B services.

Faced with a fragmented market, we must develop unified business architecture. We believe that there are six key roles in the future 5G B2B business cycle: network operators, cloud service providers, service integrators, application developers, and enterprise customers.

Network operators: provide 5G network services; explore the applications of 5G, fixed networks, and IoT across wider areas; provide industry-specific cloud service providers with private lines, private networks, and edge capabilities to develop B2B services; standardize network capabilities; and provide interfaces that industry partners can integrate with and utilize.

Industry-specific cloud service providers: empower application developers with 5G capabilities by establishing industry application enablement centers; accelerate the development of 5G applications; build an inclusive 5G application ecosystem; and build a 5G B2B market to aggregate industry applications and 5G B2B products, simplify the transaction model, and enable large-scale replication of 5G B2B solutions. It’s worth noting that an industry-specific cloud service provider may be a network operator, public cloud service provider, or service integrator.

System integrators: integrate various resources; design, deliver, and offer advice on solutions for industries; and aggregate ecosystems and provide integration verification services. This role is key to the success of any industry digitalization project and requires comprehensive industry understanding. Currently, operators in China have built their own system integration teams and cultivated corresponding capabilities by working on DICT (Department of the Information and Communications Technology) projects. Operators now offer 5G networks and cloud services, as well as integrated services for industries. While evolving leading roles in helping industries go digital, operators have maximized their value.

Industry application developers (ISVs/IHVs): provide applications that can be sold in various industries or integrated as part of system integrators' industry solutions.

Enterprise customers: procure industry solutions either independently or via a system integrator. As end users, enterprises will be able to access a self-service portal through which they can self-manage daily operations and identify problems.

Industry-specific customers: digitalize their industry as end users and project owners. Currently, 5G B2B is mainly applied in the manufacturing, mining, ports, construction, education, healthcare, campus, and public security industries.

The commercial success of 5G B2B depends on large-scale user groups (industry leaders), the participation of the world's top operators and communication vendors, leading IT infrastructure, robust innovation ecosystems, and strong support by national policies. Together, these factors will create an environment that enables synergy between the five tech domains.