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Transforming consumer experience and industry capabilities with E2E 5G

The evolution from 1G to 5G has spanned just 30 or so years, but the way people live and work has been transformed beyond recognition. What technologies are underpinning this transformation?

By Gan Bin, Chief Marketing Officer, Wireless Network, Huawei
Gan Bin

When 5G was first defined, it had two key goals: One, improve the mobile Internet experience, and two, enable the digital transformation of industries. 

In 2019, 62 operators worldwide announced commercial 5G rollout, nearly 200 5G devices were launched, and 5G spectrum was distributed in more than 50 countries. In 2020, 5G will enter a critical period of accelerated development, kicking off a new chapter in commercial deployment, the industry ecosystem, and industry applications.

Following a decade of investment in 5G research that dates back to 2009, Huawei has built leading advantages in standards and technology, commercial products, and the industry ecosystem. In 2020, Huawei has released a series of full-scenario, ultra-broadband products and solutions that deliver seamless coverage for subscribers; provide network infrastructure for cloud, big data, and AI to empower every industry; and build a digital ecosystem where all things are connected and intelligent. 


All-scenario 5G

To balance capacity and coverage and provide subscribers with a consistent experience, different combinations of macro-, pole-, and micro-site products are needed for different scenarios.

Huawei's all-scenario product portfolio forms a three-layer, three-dimensional network architecture: macro sites for 5G basic coverage, pole and micro sites for supplementary coverage in difficult-to-build areas, and micro sites for indoor digitalization. For macro sites, Huawei has launched a Massive MIMO product that weighs only 25 kg. Under European regulations, it can be transported and installed by just one engineer, which can dramatically improve network deployment efficiency for carriers.

Huawei boasts an extensive Massive MIMO product portfolio and unsurpassed performance thanks to industry-leading software and algorithms, including MU-MIMO, SRS antenna selection, and full-channel Beamforming, which combine to boost capacity, rate, and coverage. In 2019, RootMetrics and Connect tested 5G network performance in South Korea, the UK, and Switzerland. They found that that subscribers could experience download speeds on Huawei-built 5G networks that were 1.5 to 2 times faster than competitor networks, even with 20-percent less spectrum resources.

As 5G can match the network speeds of fixed fiber, 5G will play a greater role in home wireless broadband access scenarios. In many regions of the world, it isn’t viable to implement home broadband access using fixed networks due to restrictions such as the high cost of fiber rollout, the complexity of upgrade projects for low-speed copper, and right of way over private land.

However, it’s easy to provide high-speed wireless broadband access to households by deploying outdoor customer premise equipment (CPE) in locations near 5G sites and pairing them with indoor units that convert the signals to wireless. This solution avoids the need for trenching, underground cables, and drilling through walls to connect homes, representing the best choice when fiber cannot be deployed.

In 2019, 4G fixed wireless access (FWA) solutions were rolled out in more than 230 networks across 120 countries, and now serve 100 million homes. In the future, more households and SMEs will be able to enjoy gigabit access rates and diverse 5G services through 5G FWA.

Simplified 5G products

Thanks to its extensive experience in network deployment and first-mover advantage in 5G commercialization, Huawei recognizes the challenges, such as spectrum dispersion and limited space for antenna mounts, that operators face with commercial 5G rollout. That's why Huawei has developed a pioneering line of simplified Massive MIMO products and solutions, including 400 MHz ultra-wideband Massive MIMO and simplified Blade AAU. These solutions can help operators deploy 5G networks with seamless coverage more cost effectively and efficiently.

Contiguous large bandwidth on mid-band spectrum can maximize 5G Massive MIMO performance and strike a balance between capacity and coverage. However, many operators are likely to obtain discrete spectrum that isn’t contiguous, due to factors like high satellite occupancy and discrete spectrum allocations. Huawei has launched a Massive MIMO product that supports up to 400 MHz bandwidth. Using a single module, operators can utilize all the discrete spectrum within 400 MHz, helping them reduce the amount of hardware they need, simplify site deployment, and slash TCO.

As mobile communications have developed and new standards evolved, we've seen an incremental rise in the deployment of antenna modules to the point where most operators around the world are challenged by a lack of space. Huawei Blade AAU simplifies this complexity by integrating 5G Massive MIMO AAU and legacy RAT passive antenna modules into one unit. This active + passive integrated design keeps the total height of the module under 2 meters.

The design supports all sub-6 GHz frequency bands, so that operators can swap out their legacy 3G/4G antennas for Blade AAU. It also solves the issue of only having a single antenna mount for 5G deployment. Furthermore, Blade AAU's integrated design slashes site installation time, boosting 5G network construction efficiency and shortening rollout time. Since its launch, Blade AAU has become the preferred choice of many operators around the world and has been deployed commercially in multiple networks around the world, including in Switzerland and China.

2020 will be the year of commercial 5G rollout on a wide scale around the world. The mainstream choice for deployment is TDD mid-band spectrum. But deploying 5G networks on sub-3 GHz FDD spectrum can enable rapid coverage and achieve lower latency. 5G can be deployed directly onto newly acquired FDD spectrum, as 5G NR technology will dramatically improve spectrum efficiency and subscriber experience. To build 5G on existing FDD spectrum, Huawei's Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) solution can allocate real-time dynamic spectrum resources in milliseconds based on LTE and 5G service and traffic requirements, thus maximizing spectrum resource utilization. In November 2019, Huawei's DSS solution was verified and rolled out commercially in European networks. Millions of Huawei FDD RRU modules can be upgraded with the new solution, which will help speed up 5G deployment.

For the sustainable and healthy development of mobile communication networks, 5G  connectivity has to be green. Huawei offers comprehensive energy-saving solutions with new technologies, new site forms, and AI-based network coordination, which combine to drive up energy efficiency. 

Huawei’s technical design, algorithms, advanced materials, and heat dissipation technology have culminated in 5G AAUs with equal energy consumption to 4G RRUs, while offering 50x the capacity. Huawei's AI-based energy-saving solution enables fine-grained, precise energy-saving based on the service requirements of different scenarios by implementing collaborative signal, channel, and carrier shutdown technologies across multiple RATs and bands, all without impacting KPIs.


Industry digitalization with 5G E2E solutions

With the 5G Release 16 standard expected to be completed in 2020, 5G capabilities in URLLC (ultra-reliable low-latency communication) services will increase. As the 5G target network architecture, standalone (SA) will support customization needs. Huawei currently provides end-to-end (E2E) support for both non-standalone (NSA) and SA architecture, from the RAN and core network to devices and chipsets, with full support for simultaneous NSA/SA device access. This can help operators build full-service capability for end-users, homes, and industries.

In legacy TDD systems, resource (time slot) allocation mainly focuses on eMBB requirements, causing downlink capability to far exceed uplink capability. With 5G enabling the digital transformation of industry in the future, demand for high uplink bandwidth and low latency, such as from 4K/8K live streaming services, will grow. Meeting these requirements will be impossible on TDD frequency bands alone. To address this, Huawei has launched its E2E Super Uplink solution, which coordinates the use of TDD and FDD spectrum, boosts uplink capabilities, and slashes latency. It enables the TDD system to work with full uplink bands to enhance uplink capabilities. Already accepted by 3GPP, Huawei's Super Uplink solution currently offers E2E support for RAN, core networks, and devices. In operators’ networks, Super Uplink has been shown to reduce latency by 30 percent and boost the uplink rate by four times. 

To better support the digitalization of industries, Huawei has launched an E2E slicing solution for the RAN, core network, transport network, and devices. By automatically generating, managing, and operating slices on the network side, operators can meet diverse industry application needs on the same infrastructure. Huawei's E2E slicing solution supports service assurance for a wide range of industry scenarios, including telemedicine, smart ports, smart factories, and cloud VR/AR. This allows industry users to cut costs and improve efficiency, while enabling carriers to explore new markets.

2020 will be a key year for commercial 5G rollout. With the industry’s widest experience in 5G deployment and the most complete product portfolio, Huawei is ready to walk with carriers and industry verticals into a new era of connectivity, productivity, and value.