A program of continuous innovation will be key to achieving the comprehensive process of evolution and upgrade required for the 5.5G era while protecting operators' 5G investments, according to Huawei.
The company advocates an end-to-end solution for 5.5G encompassing wireless access, optical access, optical transport, datacom and core network in order to massively improve network performance and deliver a 10 Gigabit experience directly to end users.
Improving network performance by 10 fold means boosting downlink capability from 1Gbit/s to 10Gbit/s and uplink capability from 100Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s in order to meet the requirements of more diverse industry service scenarios, Huawei’ s Director and President of ICT Products & Solutions, Yang Chaobin, told an audience at the GSMA’s MWC 2023 Shanghai event in June.
In the field of IoT, passive IoT (P-IoT) technology is being introduced for the first time in the 5.5G era, directly opening up a new space for 100 billion IoT connections and creating a brand-new industry vision, he added.
Advances in Network Performance
Significant progress has already been achieved in key areas of 5.5G network performance such as capacity enhancement, flexible spectrum usage and IoT, says Yang Chaobin.
In the ultra-high bandwidth 5.5G era, the main challenge associated with the primary 6GHz spectrum band is coverage distance. Field tests carried out in Chengdu employing Huawei’s extremely-large antenna arrays (ELAAs) have already achieved greatly improved coverage capability and range, directly aligned with 3.5GHz.
With its ELAA technology and intelligent beam management capability, Huawei says it can also address the challenge of mmWave coverage. Mobility tests employing ELAAs in the large-scale continuous network in Hangzhou have successfully achieved a downlink peak experience of 10Gbit/s by supporting millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum bands, while the mobility experience has exceeded expectations.
Boosting Uplink Capacity
As well as greatly increasing the downlink rate by employing technologies such as multi-band serving cell (MBSC) to help operators coordinate the use of discontinuous spectrum resources, Huawei’s research is continuously innovating and expanding performance in the uplink.
In the 5G era industry digitalization requires much higher uplink rates than downlink, and how to achieve multi-band convergence and improved uplink rate based on decoupling technology is a core topic for digital applications.
Huawei has continuously made breakthroughs in the uplink field, says Yang Chaobin. The current focus is on optimizing the spectrum usage mode to achieve a gigabit uplink experience, making full use of the existing spectrum and improving the uplink through supplementary uplink (SUL) and flexible spectrum aggregation (FSA) technology to achieve 1Gbit/s upstream transmission through flexible access.
Huawei's innovative uplink enhancement solutions have been verified in multiple scenarios including coal mines and steel production, in order to meet 1Gbit/s uplink requirements such as 100-channel high-definition backhaul, panoramic remote control, and optical quality inspection.
Commercializing for Ubiquitous IoT
In the area of IoT, the commercialization of RedCap and the technical verification of P-IoT further strengthens the industry's expectations that 5.5G will support full-field IoT and achieve 100 billion IoT connections, says Yang Chaobin.
By combining cellular networks and passive tags P-IoT covers a distance of 235 meters improving coverage and identification accuracy by an order of magnitude compared with RFID. In addition to precise positioning, the P-IoT can also transmit sensor information such as temperature and humidity.
Considering the cost competitiveness of passive labels, P-IoT will be deployed in multiple scenarios, such as smart warehousing, logistics, animal husbandry, transportation, and retail, says Huawei.
Delivering the Universal Intelligent Core
With the growth of AI, intelligence is becoming a basic utility in the same way as water and electricity for both industries and consumers. Therefore, 5.5G must not only realize the interconnection of everything, but also realize the intelligent connection of everything.
The 5.5G core network uses native intelligent technologies to continuously enhance and open capabilities. AI capabilities are delivered to the end of the connection through the network, so that the network can better serve thousands of industries.
Huawei identifies three aspects of intelligence that characterize the 5.5G intelligent core network:
- O&M intelligence uses technologies such as intent-driven automation to provide users with more reliable and agile network infrastructure.
- Network intelligence provides better connection assurance for users through intelligent identification and intelligent policies.
- Service intelligence is combined with AI to provide a richer service experience for users.
In terms of standards, 3GPP has defined functions and protocols such as management data analytics function (MDAF) and network data analytics function (NWDAF), and intent-driven networking for network native intelligence.
In this area, Huawei says it has already achieved preliminary product verification based on 3GPP standards and will be putting these into commercial use in 2024.
50G PON Leads the Ultra-Broadband Network Era
Huawei believes that 50G passive optical networking (PON) is a key technology in enabling a 10Gbit/s experience in the optical F5.5G ultra-broadband network era. The two different routes of GPON and EPON standards development have converged in 50G PON, which realizes the integration and normalization of technologies.
Compared with 10G PON, 50G PON brings three major changes according to Huawei:
- The bandwidth is increased from 1 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s, enabling end users to enjoy immersive video service experience.
- The latency is reduced from milliseconds to microseconds. In interactive and industrial applications, 50G PON can bring a better real-time experience.
- Technologies such as slicing can provide a deterministic experience and implement multiple functions on one network.
In the future, 50G PON will be widely used in the home, campus, and production fields. In the standards arena, ETSI has defined and released the F5G standard in 2020, and plans Release 3 F5G Advanced (that is, F5.5G) in 2024.
Huawei has completed technical verification and pilot applications with more than 30 carriers around the world, such as the high-definition AOI quality inspection of the industrial Internet.
Huawei predicts that 50G PON will be put into commercial use by the end of 2023 and will enter the small-scale commercial use stage in 2024.
Net5.5G: a New-Generation Industry Digital Network
The digital transformation and cloudification of various industries is driving the continuous evolution of access, bearer, cloud, and end-to-end networks, says Yang Chaobin.
All industries are in urgent need of high-quality network access, massive data migration to the cloud, and efficient computing resource release.
Huawei believes Net5.5G meets these demands in three critical areas:
- High-quality access: Net5.5G can provide 10 Gbit/s experience anytime, anywhere, for high-quality industry data access, especially in emerging service scenarios that require high bandwidth and experience, such as immersive office, high-density video conferencing, and production AOI quality inspection. Seamless roaming is used to achieve zero packet loss.
- Ultra-broadband transport: To cope with the trend of all-cloud digital services in industries, Net5.5G provides ultra-broadband transport to increase access-side bandwidth and uses tenant-level industry slicing to enable industry data to enter multiple clouds in one hop.
- 800GE AI Fabric: ChatGPT is sparking the AI boom, and data centers are entering the era of 10,000 card clusters. Net5.5G uses the 800GE AI Fabric architecture to provide high-density 800GE ultra-high bandwidth, 1us ultra-low latency, and network-level load balancing, releasing 100% computing power of AI DC.
Net5.5G provides the key capabilities of 10GE (Gigabit Ethernet) access, ultra-broadband bearer, and microsecond-level latency on AI networks, building a new-generation industry digital network foundation and unleashing digital potential.
Universal device support for 5.5G is imminent
Recognising that the key technologies of 5.5G have been fully verified, Huawei says it will launch a complete set of 5.5G network devices for commercial use in 2024.