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Huawei’s Bridging the Digital Divide goal in 2018: Extend Wireless Network Coverage to 100 Million New Rural Users

Huawei Global Analyst Summit (HAS) releases goals for sustainable wireless network development

[Shenzhen, April 17, 2018] Huawei announced its commitment to help close the digital divide because we believe this is a vital step to improve livelihoods and fore fill the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is only 12 years away.

Our commitment is to extend mobile network coverage by a 100 million new users in rural areas, reduce urban land stress by 800,000 m2 with more efficient base stations, and cut carbon emissions from telecom networks by 600,000 tons.

"The telecom industry is the first to make commitments to the United Nations' sustainable development goals. Huawei is committed to making a better connected world. As a telecoms leader, we bring new technologies, such as 5G and the Cloud, but it is also our responsibility to ensure these technologies contribute to a greener, more equitable, and sustainable world," said Cao Ming, Vice President of Huawei's Wireless Solution. "It is with this in mind that Huawei has developed a series of new solutions: RuralStar, PoleStar, TubeStar, and PowerStar."

Wireless Technology Reduces Rural Inequality

By helping to build more inclusive economies and improving rural access to information and services RuralStar is contributing to SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

As we enter into the era of mobile internet, the digital gap between rural and urban communities continues to widen. At present, there are 800 million people in rural areas around the world with no access to network coverage. Network connections can serve as a catalyst to promote economic equality by improving access information, services, and opportunities. For example, in rural China, young people are now able to improve their income via a live broadcast platform that would have been impossible for his parent's generation. In Kenya, villagers can now receive financial remittance from their partners working in cities far away. In Mongolia, children can enjoy online learning over mobile networks while the family maintain their traditional nomadic lifestyles and herd their cattle across vast remote areas.

"In 2017, Huawei successfully expanded network access to over 50 million new users in rural areas. In addition, Huawei launched the RuralStar solution to enable low-cost, ultra-long distance voice and digital access for millions of users in rural areas. In 2018, this new solution will continue to make wireless network coverage accessible to an additional 100 million people in rural areas," said Cao.

RuralStar is a fast and simple option for network deployments that can be installed on wooden poles and be powered entirely with solar energy. This base station supports self-backhaul over LTE networks, making transmissions possible without expensive satellite or microwave resources. The latest version of this solution, RuralStar2.0, provides coverage to more than double the number of users while keeping the investment at the same level of traditional solutions.

Smaller Base Stations Reduce Demand for Urban Land

By improving ICT infrastructure to make it more sustainable and efficient PoleStar and TubeStar contribute to SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) forecasts the world's urban population will continue to expand, especially in developing economies. In China, over 70 percent of its population is expected to migrate to urban areas. Over 50 percent are expected to live in India’s urban centers. This will result in tremendous stress on urban land use. In cities like Shenzhen, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and New Delhi base stations are already in very close proximity. When 5G commercialization begins in earnest in two years, the space between base stations will grow even smaller – to under 50 meters. A tower currently requires 40m2 of land. This is simply unsustainable for 5G networks.

"The entire telecom industry needs to improve land use efficiency whilst preparing for 5G," said Cao. "Huawei's has already deployed 2,500 PoleStar base stations saving approximately 20,000 m2 of land – equivalent to several football pitches. Their integration with other urban furnishings, such as street lights and electricity poles, as well as smart meters (air quality monitors for example), advertising, and public alerts in the future will result in further land use improvements.”

PoleStar is a lightweight solution that features a zero footprint and blends into the urban environment. Huawei also offers TubeStar which encases an entire on-tower base station within a simple pipe structure. More importantly, it only requires two meters of land, thereby improving land efficiency by more than 90 percent.

Lower Signal Transmission Reduces Carbon Emissions

By improving the energy efficiency of mobile networks PowerStar is contributing to SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Last but not least, Huawei has created a new PowerStar solution that reduces network energy consumption. This is part of Huawei’s on-going commitment to building green ICT networks. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data traffic demand, PowerStar is able to switch off different parts of the base station when demand is low and restore power when the demand returns. For example, it switches off the 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands at night while only retaining 900 MHz to ensure basic coverage needs. Our trial indicated a ten to 15 percent network energy reduction.

In the past, GSM for instance, there were only two frequency bands, but with the advent of UMTS, LTE and now with the forthcoming 5G this figure will rise to 20. With an increasing number of sites, bands, and channels energy demand will increase by tens and even hundreds of times. Leading global carriers have all made commitments to reduce their energy consumption. For example, Vodafone has targeted a carbon reduction of 50 percent by 2020. France Telecom has pledged to cut power usage by 20 percent.

"PowerStar uses an AI-based software solution to realize a huge reduction in energy consumption. It has the potential to reduce energy consumption of mobile communication networks by ten to 15 percent, which would result in a carbon saving of 600,000 tons in the first year, equivalent to saving 15,000,000 ten year-old trees." said Cao.