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Moving towards the F5G era together

Aug 26, 2020 By David Wang, Executive Director of the Board, Huawei

5G and the Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G) will complement each other to become the foundation for a fully connected, intelligent world. As a key player in the global fixed network industry, Huawei will contribute to fixed network standards, and promote the commercial use of F5G innovations. Our aim is to drive a thriving fixed network industry.

Wang Tao

Huawei's Global Connectivity Index (GCI) shows that Intelligent Connectivity can help address some of society's most pressing challenges, including healthcare, hunger, education, inclusion, environmental conservation, safe cities, and crisis response. Intelligent Connectivity is also a key engine powering the global economy. In GCI 2018, we forecasted that an additional US$23 trillion in economic potential will be available by 2025 if each country measured in the GCI increased its annual ICT infrastructure investment by 8 percent. Elevating ICT infrastructure to the level of Intelligent Connectivity is a crucial step for countries aiming to achieve sustainable growth.

Wireless and fixed networks are the foundation of the connectivity industry. They have different use cases, but are well coordinated and inseparable. Currently, wireless networks are entering the 5G era. Built on globally unified standards, 5G is going beyond individuals and homes to revolutionize industries, enabling them to develop and prosper. So far, countries around the world have explored over 300 5G 2B use cases across more than 20 industries, including media, education, healthcare, connected vehicles, intelligent manufacturing, and smart mining. 

The increasing importance of fixed networks

In China alone over the past few months, employees from nearly 18 million companies worked remotely from home, 230 million students studied at home, and 12 million people saw a doctor online every day. The home has blurred the boundaries between living and entertainment, and has become a productivity center that offers the same functions as schools, hospitals, offices, theaters, and e-commerce stores. Home broadband has become the fourth pillar of critical infrastructure, alongside transportation, water, and electricity.

Broadband networks are playing an increasingly important role in advancing society and the economy. The World Bank's study found that a 10-percent increase in broadband penetration would increase GDP growth by 1.38 percent on average. According to the White Paper on Development and Employment in China's Digital Economy (2019), China's 180 million kilometers of optical fiber supports a digital economy worth 31.3 trillion yuan.

This April, China's National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) clarified the scope of China's New Infrastructure campaign for the first time, and proposed to drive the optimization and upgrade of optical fiber networks. Other countries like the UK, Portugal, Spain, and France are also rolling out their all-optical network strategies to boost high-quality economic development.

As an operator of broadband networks, major global telecom carriers are actively deploying gigabit broadband and 5G networks, and extending broadband networks from homes to enterprises. Leading carriers in China, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region have launched high-quality private line services over all-optical networks. This has accelerated the digital transformation of government, finance, healthcare, and other sectors. The social and economic value of broadband networks is being pushed even further.

Addressing the fragmentation of the fixed network industry

Like the wireless network industry, the fixed network industry started to evolve from the analog age back in 1980, and has continued to evolve over the past 40 years. In the wireless network industry, five generations of evolution has seen a shift from fragmentation to inclusion. In the analog age, there were eight incompatible technology standards for wireless. With 5G, wireless has now converged on one unified standard. Countries around the world are exploring 5G 2B use cases, and over 300 such projects have been launched. So far, the global wireless network industry has fostered a diverse ecosystem and set in motion a virtuous business cycle.

ITU's statistics show that nearly 1 billion households worldwide have no access to fixed broadband. Of the 1 billion households connected to fixed broadband, only 53 percent have access to optical fiber. Several reasons have led to the slowdown in fixed broadband deployment.

  • Many standards organizations exist, including International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Broadband Forum (BBF), and Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF). These organizations lack coordination.
  • The evolution from one generation to the next isn’t clear cut, many different technologies exist, and scattered investment has made it difficult to achieve economies of scale.
  • Carriers are primarily responsible for the construction, operations, and maintenance of fiber broadband networks. Facing huge financial and operational pressures, as well as social responsibility, carriers are now stuck in a situation where their revenue doesn't grow along with the increase in network rollouts.
  • Fixed networks lag far behind wireless networks in terms of the maturity of applications and ecosystems.
  • There’s no denying that the fixed network industry has achieved excellent results and is moving towards the all-optical era. Fiber networks have many advantages, such as limitless bandwidth, long-distance transmission, and anti-electromagnetic interference. They also save energy and are eco-friendly. If fixed network standards and the ecosystem can be as unified and as prosperous as wireless networks, then the scale of the industry and its role in the global economy would grow by several times.

ETSI launched the Industry Specification Group (ISG) F5G in February 2020 and defined the key generations of fixed broadband evolution. Huawei believes that this will be a key milestone on the road towards a thriving fixed network industry, and usher in a brand-new era.

Huawei positions itself as an F5G enabler and explorer

The ISG F5G has turned the paradigm of Fiber to the Home into Fiber to Everything Everywhere, aiming to extend fiber coverage to every desk, room, base station, machine, and data center. ETSI has also defined three major features of the F5G era: full-fiber connection (FFC), enhanced fixed broadband (eFBB), and guaranteed reliable experience (GRE). This new vision indicates the direction the fixed network industry is taking.

Huawei believes that it can realize the vision of F5G from three aspects: high bandwidth, inspired experiences, and all-optical connectivity. In terms of high bandwidth, the aim is to connect households to gigabit networks, buildings to 10 gigabit networks, and campuses to terabit networks. Inspired experiences include millisecond-level latency, zero packet loss, and five nines availability. All-optical connectivity means extending fiber to every room, desk, and machine to connect hundreds of thousands of objects every square kilometer.

As a key player in the global fixed network industry, Huawei will embrace the F5G era and be an explorer and industry enabler. Over the course of the journey from F1G to F4G, Huawei launched SDH chips, MSAN, 100G, OTN, and other key technologies and products. As we move towards the F5G era, Huawei has proposed the Intelligent OptiX Network strategy, and launched innovative technologies and products, such as 10G PON, Wi-Fi 6, eAI ONT, 200G and 400G, and next-generation OTN (NG OTN). We’ve remained committed to innovation in optical transport, access, and devices to guarantee an inspired user experience.

  • In the full-fiber connectivity domain, Huawei has launched Edge ONT products to enable fiber to the room (FTTR), and PON modules to enable fiber to the machine and fiber to the desk. In addition, Huawei is the first vendor in the industry to launch NG OTN, which is designed to meet the private line needs of SMEs.
  • In terms of eFBB, Huawei has launched 10G PON and Wi-Fi 6 products for commercial use, and has started researching 50G PON technology. Our 200G and 400G optical transmission solutions have been deployed on a large scale, showcasing our commitment to continuously increasing the spectral efficiency and transmission distance of optical fiber.
  • Regarding GRE, Huawei has launched eAI ONT products that use artificial intelligence to identify key services. We’ve built end-to-end, experience-guaranteed transmission pipelines through Wi-Fi 6 air interface slicing, OLT slicing, and NG OTN hard slicing. Built on end-to-end hard slicing, our premium OTN private lines can provide high-quality private line services for large enterprises and SMEs.

Opening a new chapter in fixed networks together

Moving forward, 5G and F5G will complement each other and create synergy to become the foundation of a fully connected, intelligent world.

Huawei will contribute to developing ETSI's standards for fixed networks, and we will maintain our strategic investments in fixed networks. Based on ETSI's standards, we will promote the commercial use of F5G innovations in the optical transport and optical access domains. We will continue to explore new use cases to drive a thriving fixed network industry, and make greater contributions to the industry.

We invite all global players across the fixed network industry to join the F5G industry ecosystem and embrace the F5G era. Together, we will realize our shared vision of fiber to everything, everywhere.