5.5G Core: Boosting Connectivity and Enabling Services

Meet 5.5G Core - a pioneering concept by Huawei to boost network connectivity, enable services in more scenarios, and build future-ready businesses.

By George Gao, President of the Huawei Cloud Core Network Product Line
George Gao

As 5G is developed on a bigger scale and rolled out to more users, its commercialization is becoming a focal point of the industry. New services and applications are increasing pressure on networks and driving the evolution of standards, technologies, applications, and ecosystems. The industry is poised for the 5.5G era.

The key to ensuring future business success is developing and supporting a comprehensive set of services which can be applied to a wider range of domains and offer a differentiated user experience. Core network construction and evolution are paramount to achieving this.

Some of the most impressive features of 5.5G Core are New Call, mobile edge computing (MEC) to X, and New Video. New Call upgrades audio/video calls to immersive intelligent experiences. MEC to X extends industry-specific private networks from a single application in an individual domain to a range of applications across all domains. New Video transforms videos from entertainment on a single screen to multi-screen social networking that transcends reality.

By leveraging these capabilities to bring services to more consumer-, business-, and household-facing scenarios, the core network will place the industry in a strong position to build new businesses and thrive in the intelligent world.

The 5G market is maturing

After two years of early deployment and large-scale rollout, the 5G market has entered a more mature stage of creating tangible value for consumers and industries.

In the consumer market, where user experience has improved significantly in recent years, 5G users spend 1.5 times more time viewing short videos and the proportion of high-definition (HD) video traffic has increased by 20%. At the same time, 5G optimizes carriers’ businesses. Since voice over LTE (VoLTE) is mandatory for 5G voice services, the development of 5G also improves VoLTE and facilitates the retirement of carriers' earlier-generation networks, helping them optimize network efficiency. Furthermore, the commercial benefits of 5G in industry-specific markets are remarkable. In China, for example, carriers have already deployed more than 6,000 5G virtual private networks in over 40 industries.

Calling for industry transformation

As 5G is commercialized on a larger scale and industries undergo digital transformation, there is increasing pressure on network infrastructure and capabilities.

In terms of network infrastructure, virtualization technologies will move from virtual machines to containers, which will involve complex adaptation to multiple management planes and virtualization engines. The introduction of new virtualization technologies and hardware will have a huge impact on network evolution. In addition, as networks become more complex, AI technologies will be needed to upgrade operations and maintenance (O&M) from the current manual mode to the autonomous driving network (ADN).

As the list of 5G applications grows, there will be higher expectations in terms of network capabilities.

For example, metaverse applications need networks to deliver an immersive communication experience anytime and anywhere. Therefore, for media applications such as XR, new technologies need to be introduced to support frame-level scheduling, multi-stream collaborative transmission, real-time rendering and interaction, and closed-loop experience optimization. In industry-specific markets, 5G is being applied to an even more diverse range of scenarios. According our Intelligent World 2030 report, the number of 5G virtual private networks will reach 1 million by 2030. This means that 5G needs to be able to connect to many different industries.

5G networks need to continuously evolve to keep up with these network and service demands. All parties in the industry are cooperating and innovating to this end. 3GPP has established the 5G Advanced project to review and clarify industry standards.

5.5G Core: Empowering digital transformation across industries

Huawei is driving the industry forward by proposing 5.5G Core and actively promoting industry cooperation, business innovation, and technology implementation. By working to extend the reach of 5G, Huawei can capitalize on the opportunities brought by 5G and help facilitate the digital transformation of other industries.


5.5G Core represents a step towards service enablement because it will deliver important improvements in the following three areas:

Voice services: 5.5G Core improves the quality of mobile network calls, and upgrades the call experience from simple audio and video to intelligent interaction, making voice services more than just a communication tool. Instead, they become a platform for carriers to potentially offer even more new services.

First, 5.5G Core adds a data channel based on the existing IMS audio and video channels. Having "three channels on one network" creates a more interactive user experience. Second, 5.5G Core introduces features such as AI-based media identification, rendering, and synthesis, thereby making calls smarter and expression methods more diversified. These two capabilities open up the potential for new assistive functions, such as social security services for the elderly and people with disabilities, and services that simplify business processes, such as one-stop insurance claims settlement.

Business-facing scenarios: 5.5G Core meets the requirements for multi-service private networks by improving the "connectivity + edge computing" feature to redirect industry-specific private networks from covering a single scenario in a service domain to all scenarios in all domains. 5.5G Core also builds the mobile network into a Data, Operation, Information, Communication Technology (DOICT) foundation that can empower all industries. Here are some examples of improved connectivity:

For industrial Internet of Things (IoT): 5.5G Core uses technologies such as 5G LAN and operation technology user plane function (OT-UPF) for ultra-high reliability and ultra-low latency in industrial applications.

For enterprise WAN interconnection: 5.5G Core uses mobile VPN to implement WAN mesh interconnection between enterprise private networks so that enterprise intranets can be reliably and effectively accessed anytime and from anywhere.

For multiple services in industry-specific applications: In addition to video surveillance and remote-control data access, digital voice trunking is provided to better support the daily operation of enterprises.

Enterprise services that have not been moved to the cloud rely heavily on edge computing. 5.5G Core uses private network connections and builds a converged foundation of edge computing and networking based on the telecom cloud platform. This converged foundation is very stable, offers real-time scheduling, and is designed to support all critical enterprise applications in one place, making it a one-stop platform for customers.

Video services: 5.5G Core integrates the communication and video features of mobile phones and TVs to build a platform for social interaction and entertainment based on video services. Video services will evolve from simple entertainment on a single screen to social networking across multiple screens for both individuals and families.

5.5G Core will develop XR and spatial video capabilities in the new media age. By introducing intelligent media identification and scheduling capabilities, the core network will offer a more immersive experience in cases with massive connections. In addition, technologies such as intelligent transcoding, intelligent stitching, and multi-stream synchronization will be used to deliver a multi-dimensional spatial video experience. Moreover, through 5.5G Core, we will improve multi-screen communication and video capabilities, and provide new call and social networking services. These will help improve the user video experience and increase customer loyalty to our brand.

Full-service enablement: Building new business paradigms

By improving consumer-, business-, and household-facing services, 5.5G Core will help carriers build new businesses and thrive in the intelligent world. The mobile industry has not developed evenly, and it is clear that 5.5G evolution will be gradual. Based on the first phase of 5G rollout, carriers may see the best results by implementing technology and network evolution on the following four fronts:

  • Voice networks: Carriers need to have VoLTE audio and video infrastructure networks in place to innovate new call services in phases based on the maturity of terminals and industries. To start with, carriers can develop terminal-independent ultra-HD video and smart video services. For example, China Mobile plans to launch fun call services and smart translation services to improve user experience and increase customer satisfaction. Then, with the development of native terminals, carriers can develop more interactive calls, build platform products based on calls, and build service closed loops during interactions. This will boost the industry's value and help improve efficiency.
  • Business-facing services: Carriers can leverage the network scale and build layered, multi-dimensional networks to provide industry-specific private network services on demand. In WAN scenarios, carriers can leverage the advantages of dedicated public networks to deliver electric power and campus WAN. In addition, carriers can provide cost-effective shared 5G private networks for small- and medium-sized enterprises. In LAN scenarios, the on-premises network keeps the data within the campus, so carriers can use enhanced connectivity to extend the 5G private network from peripheral to core production systems. Carriers can also draw on the computing power and platform capabilities of the MEC telecom cloud foundation to integrate heterogeneous hardware and third-party software and help industry customers streamline private network construction and O&M.
  • Video services: Carriers can stay competitive by offering a better experience. They can popularize 4K HD and 8K VR as entry-level video experiences, and then develop 8K video and 12K VR to appeal to high-end users. At the same time, carriers can introduce new experiences such as free-view, multi-view, and 3D videos to tap into new markets. They can also add video features to their social networking capabilities to open up new opportunities in the entertainment and social spheres. 5.5G Core offers effective ways for carriers to optimize their business models.
  • AI capabilities: AI will become a basic capability of the core network, and will be particularly important in the following three scenarios: highly stable networks, efficient O&M, and experience optimization. For example: AI-enabled fault detection, diagnosis, isolation, recovery, prevention, and prediction will facilitate a more proactive and preventative approach to network assurance. ADN L4 automation can be implemented through intentional network provisioning, change, configuration, and smart traffic analysis. SLA assurance for high-value users can be carried out through smart UPF selection and reselection, mobile VPN path optimization, and load-based smart slice selection.

Huawei continuously invests in the innovation and development of new services. Huawei will work with industry stakeholders to grow the 5.5G business together by building on the full-service enablement platform encompassing New Call, New Video, and MEC to X.