Huawei talked up its 4.5G technology solutions this week at a pre-MWC 2016 briefing in London on 16 February, deeming it a necessary step for mobile network operators on the road to 5G.
It also predicted that more than 60 commercial 4.5G networks will be deployed worldwide in 2016. Along with its 4.5G technology, Huawei’s latest innovations centre around Internet of Things (IoT), 2K/4K video, and what it calls the Safe City.
The company highlighted five major initiatives: Big Video – Everywhere; Big IT – Enabling; Big Operation – Agile; Big Architecture – Elastic; and Big Pipe Ubiquitous. These initiatives are designed to accelerate the industry’s digital transformation. Huawei foresees a potential $100 billion video industry market and a $1 trillion enterprise cloud market. The number of IoT connections is expected to grow 10-fold.
“Digital transformation is a new engine for telecom industry growth, and it will also empower the innovation of other industries,” said William Xu, Executive Director of the Board and Chief Strategy Marketing Officer of Huawei, in London (pictured). "Huawei will continue to open up platform capabilities to help carriers to build an open, collaborative, and win-win industry ecosystem to accelerate digital transformation."
San-qi Le, CTO of Products and Solutions, emphasised this need for open platforms and cross-industry partnerships to enable collaboration by highlighting Huawei’s various partner programmes: Open Labs Partner Program for joint innovation, to support rapid commercial use of new services; eSDK open developer ecosystem platform; Enrich Business Ecosystem – driving disruptive businesses in the digital economy; Open Video Platform; and the FusionCloud Platform for computing, storage and network developments.
Huawei said 4.5G is defined by three cores: ‘Gbps’ to provide users with instantaneously delivered services; ‘Experience 4.0’, which makes HD audios and videos accessible from anywhere; and ‘Connection+’, which will provide ‘ubiquitous connectivity’.
4.5G will deliver mobile broadband data rates of up to 1,000 Mbit/s, enabling HD voice, 2K/4K HD video, and virtual reality experiences to be available anywhere. 4.5G will also make possible the IoT, which will make lives smarter, and help telecom operators expand into industry markets.
GigaRadio, one of Huawei’s key products to be launched at this year's MWC, is a crucial technology for 4.5G. GigaRadio will be deployed commercially on a large scale in 2016, and will help to accelerate the global adoption of 4.5G.
Speaking at a presentation in Beijing the same week, Ryan Ding, Executive Director and President of Products & Solutions at Huawei, predicted that more than 60 commercial 4.5G networks will be deployed worldwide in 2016, as the 4.5G technology becomes increasingly mature and standardised.
He said: “Based on new terminals, new services and new experiences currently available, 4.5G will deliver a larger bandwidth, shorter time delay and more extensive connections.”
Ding argued that the case for the value of 4.5G to global telecom operators, saying: “4.5G is the natural evolution of 4G and necessary transition to the 5G. It can effectively protect operators’ investments and enable them to provide faster services and better user experience on the basis of existing infrastructures.”
Not everyone agrees that 4.5G is necessary for 5G, and that 4.5G looks like a good marketing method to sell more kit, but there are certainly aspects of it that will almost certainly be used as building blocks for the new standard. Huawei’s view is that the benefits of 5G are still five years off, but MNOs can get the considerable benefits of 4.5G right now.
Huawei has developed open platform solutions for 2K/4K video, which aggregate content and enable innovation in video services. Paul Scanlon, President of Business and Network Consulting, described video as ‘the new basic’ with video accounting for 50% or more of data traffic for most operators now. Huawei has come up with a way of measuring the quality of experience for video it calls U-vMOS
In cloud computing, Huawei said its priority is working with telecom operators to provide cloud services. Huawei's cloud strategy is to co-build an open cloud ecosystem with its partners: Huawei will focus on building IaaS, enabling PaaS and aggregating SaaS, to empower our partners in application oriented and data driven high value creation.
Huawei's IoT solutions comprise an IoT Connectivity Platform; two access models – NB-IoT and Smart ONT for Smart Home solutions; and Agile AR for industry local connectivity solutions; and then one IoT operating system - the Huawei LiteOS/Module based on the open source Linux OS.
San-qi Li described the Smart ONT as a smart home gateway, which will provide an anchor hub for operators to empower the digital home service ecosystem. It combines four previously siloed technologies: the smart home control centre; security; Gbps optical modem; and built in IoT protocols.
The Agile AR (access router) is a unified industrial network edge device empowered with IoT edge intelligence. It features a robust design for outdoor deployment, a wealth of interfaces (Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc) and complex protocol adaptations. Applications include smart buildings, metering, street lamps and manufacturing.
The Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT), which enables low power, wide area networks using cellular frequency bands will be commercially available in Q3 206. San-qi Li said it will provide 100 x more connectivity per cell site and deeper penetration than existing cellular standards (one more wall the 2G can manage).
During the London Q&A session, William Hu explained that 4.5G will boost the number of 4G IoT device connections from 2,000 per 4G cell to 100,000 per 4.5G cell – a clear example of how 4.5G can increase capacity for MNOs based on their existing spectrum holdings.
Huawei's Safe City solutions are powered by the latest IoT and mobile broadband (MBB) technologies to deliver smart, video-based security systems for cities. These systems enable governments and municipal authorities to prevent crises and improve their response to emergencies. To date, Huawei said its Safe City solutions have been deployed in over 100 cities across more than 30 countries.
MWC 2016 will be held in Barcelona, Spain, between February 22 and 25. Huawei's exhibition booths are in Fira Gran Via Hall 1 and Hall 3.