Huawei President of Wireless Network Product Line Cao Ming (pictured) outlined the 5G trends that he predicted will drive societies worldwide to the next stage.
Speaking at the 5G Development and Innovation Forum on the eve (June 27) of MWC Shanghai 2023, the executive said there’s an urgent need for the telecoms industry to “expand our scope” to not only deliver more revenue but also bring about true change to modern societies.
“We need to expand our scope and not be limited to the traditional routes to market and enterprises, we need to cover more households and connect to more aspects that are related to our productivity and lives.”
“We need to be connected to all sorts of sectors and not only focus on telecommunications, but other use cases. By doing this we'll be able to have more success. To do this we need to expand our capabilities to have an upload speed of 1Gbps, download speeds of 10Gbps, and connect 100 billion devices. By doing this we can ascend to 5.5G, and hit new ground,” said Cao.
Cao pointed to China as a leader in 5G, illustrated by how operators have deployed a combined 2.8 million 5G base stations, up from 2.7 million a month ago.
This was to support the “unprecedented” surge in 5G subscribers - the new connectivity standard already has one billion subscribers and it only took three years. For comparison, 4G gained one billion users in six years, and 3G took eight years.
5G is on the cusp of the next level of its evolution and that stage is called 5.5G or 5G Advanced. Cao pointed out “4G changed people's lives for the better but 5G is capable of transforming societies.”
The executive highlighted several emerging 5G use cases that have shifted the needle or will do so soon.
First, he pointed to the video industry, the value of this segment was worth CNY720 billion (US$99.3 billion) in 2017, last year it was CNY3 trillion and it is on track to hit CNY4 trillion in 2023. Chinese subscribers are used to HD videos and fast-forwarding instantly, such features were only “imaginary” years ago.
“5G has greatly improved our audiovisual experiences and this has delivered a tremendous amount of value,” said Cao.
Secondly, he noted how fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband usage and ARPU, had surged in popularity since 2019 but it “remains a blue ocean of opportunity for operators” due to low penetration and traffic.
He pointed to developing markets in sub-Saharan Africa where copper broadband networks varied and at most have single-digit penetration. Cao also highlighted the Middle East where laying down fibre cables is expensive due to land and labour costs. These markets are now looking to FWA to skip those established technologies to cater to modern consumer demands and churn them away from fixed lines.
On B2B, Cao mentioned several industries that have begun digital transformation journeys to make jobs safer and more productive. This was seen in how private 5G networks have been deployed “rapidly” in the last four years according to the executive.
Mining was spotlighted as a dangerous job where people need to go hundreds of metres underground, as are the steel and shipping industries with their own respective hazards. Due to the risks fewer people are applying for such manual but vital jobs said Cao, but 5G can aid in improving these job roles or replace people altogether. Mining and crane operating can be done remotely in an airconditioned room to enhance focus, comfort and above all - safety.
A “revolutionary” technology that was spotlighted during the forum was Naked Eye 3D, a technology that can convert 2D video to 3D in seconds. The technology can be used in multiple segments including the obvious gaming, as well as telemedicine and education. This needs 10Gbps transmission capabilities, a cornerstone for 5.5G technologies noted Cao, which operators globally are working towards.
Elsewhere during the forum, the chairman of the board at China Communications Standards Association, Wen Ku, praised decisions from stakeholders and operators in deploying predominantly standalone 5G networks for China’s commercial launch four years ago.
Wen most notably highlighted the number of IoT devices has surpassed the number of mobile devices, with two billion being connected over the one billion phones, however, this is “far from enough”.
“I think IoT development is still in the early stages. I think IoT connections should be 10 times higher than mobile phone numbers. This way, we can truly have a very thriving 5G application ecosystem.”
Mobile communications networks especially after the launch of 5G have made the world a better place. In the past, we were interested in how many 5G applications were going to be made, now we are more interested in standout applications.
“Good applications keep emerging and improving consumer experience. For example, live streaming and immersive video - with a new wave of the live streaming economy, anyone with a smartphone can live stream anywhere, anytime. People can live-stream to market their ecommerce products, for example,” said Wen.
Meanwhile, Chinese Academy of ICT deputy director of 5G Application Innovation Center Jiadong Du, announced in his presentation the world is entering the industry 4.0 era as industries are going digital, and will henceforth focus on analysing data to extract key insights and maximise their production.
Du predicted industries will begin to build an end-to-end channel for data simulation, to fully utilise data throughout production processes to unlock full value, this brings about new requirements for digital infrastructures.