Mobile operators will undergo a digital transformation and move into the Cloud, while video services will play a key part in generating increased revenues, Huawei claimed at a pre-MWC 2017 briefing in London yesterday (13 February 2017).
Huawei’s Zhilei Zou, President, Carrier Business Group (pictured), expressed confidence that operators had not reached the end of their growth potential. ‘We believe the overall trend for the industry is positive and we should be confident of having strong growth in the industry,’ he said.
However, he argued that operators will need to upgrade their infrastructure and look at how to use their fibre resources in a more effective manner, as well as transforming their network architecture, base stations and operations.
Zou said that Cloud technology will play a key part in this radical transformation, but operators need to work in partnership with industry and end users to develop the ecosystem, especially when they consider expanding into industry verticals.
Helping operators grow
Ken Wang, President of Global Marketing and Solutions Sales, Carrier Business Group at Huawei, predicted that by 2025 we will see a world of real-time intelligent connectivity. He pointed out that global connections have risen to 11 billion, home Gigaband penetration has reached 30% and there are now 40 billion global smart devices in use.
He said there are limitless opportunities to be gained from the digitalisation of industry, which will use Internet of Things and other mobile services to improve both operational efficiency and boost margins. Huawei sees a US$15 trillion market from sectors such as energy, manufacturing, government, finance and transportation.
Wang added that there is also still a large untapped potential for operators to provide basic connectivity and communications, as 3.9 billion people have no Internet, 2.5 billion no mobile service, and 1.1 billion homes have no broadband.
However, Huawei sees video as the next trillion dollar market deriving from entertainment, industry and communications in general. He explained that Huawei’s approach has evolved from network evolution centred on technology architecture in 2015, to digital transformation centred on the user experience in 2016.
For MWC 2017, Huawei’s theme has moved to focusing on helping operators create more business value by maximising network value, making video a business success, reshaping B2B through the Cloud, and moving to an all Cloud services approach for operations and networks. More than that, it is about moving business beyond the telcos into B2B and B2C.
Wang (pictured below) said that maximising network value involves: creating more high value users by offering high value services, which will drive revenues; offering better home broadband for digital households; upgrading assets through site densification, TCO optimisation, spectrum efficiency, and improving operational and maintenance efficiency.
He added that operators can realise new growth using existing assets, but they need to also seize the coming business opportunity of the ‘video is king era’ to support the growth in video demand.
‘Operators need good coverage (voice, SMS) and bandwidth (speed and latency) and for video a good user experience, content and ecosystem. We think those operators who engage with video and who make it work as a business will be the future,’ offered Wang.
Operators can also reshape their B2B business through the Cloud to achieve new growth.
Wang pointed out that more and more enterprise apps are moving to the cloud. Cloud and enterprise IT services offer a vast new market of around US$1 trillion with time to market (TTM) shortened by 90% using the Cloud, giving operators more capacity to innovate by offering computing, IoT and video services.
Unsurprisingly, Huawei has lined up a number of all-Cloud solutions to help operators to achieve business success with seven new Cloud related products (see below), which will pave the way for 5G. However, Wang warned that the industry needs to do a lot to prepare for 5G still.
First up, the network architecture must be prepared with a data-centric network already deployed, NFV must be deployed to prepare the way for ‘cloudification’, and the bearer network made ready.
Operators also need to be spectrum ready, as 5G will involve the use of more spectrum in higher frequency bands, and finally, they need to be business ready by preparing the ground with IoT and mobile business services, and by having the right people, organisation and skills ready for 5G.
All Cloud Networks
Libin Dai, Solution Marketing Department Director, Carrier Network Business Group, outlined Huawei’s three key pillar philosophies for all Cloud networks. The first is that all technology must be abstracted and capable of being transmitted: sharing all resources (access, WAN traffic and DC) so that utilisation improves by 100%.
The second pillar involves automating all operations for a self-service, self-healing, self-deployment and self-optimisation network, which will increase operational efficiency by 100 times.
The third pillar is the requirement for a distributed architecture for all computing – all of which must float on top of the infrastructure to build up super large systems. This will enable a much faster time to market for new services taking days rather than months to deploy.
Huawei’s All Cloud offering is essentially comprised of three elements: hardware resource pooling; distributed software architecture; and fully automated operations. The new Cloud products fall into three main areas. The first is All Cloud access and connection, which includes: CloudAir; CloudRAN; and Cloud FAN (fixed access network).
CloudAIR makes a different use of resources including channel, spectrum and power to enable dynamic sharing of spectrum and network capacity resources. CloudRAN is a re-architected wireless network with a flexible topology and location of resources to re-architect RAN to enable computation in the cloud.
Cloud FAN covers home Wi-Fi, fixed network access and home services applications, all of which Huawei believes can be improved through cloud-based optimisation technology, enabling operators to provide new and more flexible service offerings.
The second category of products comprises Cloud MAN (metropolitan area networks) and backbone networks: CloudMetro and CloudCampus. Cloud Metro offers network slicing capabilities to provide adaptive connectivity for subscribers with control and management residing in the Cloud. This allows the deployment of new applications in just minutes.
CloudCampus is the ‘next $10 billion dollar market for operators, according to Huawei. Where campuses used to manage their own networks, this can now be provided by the operator using a cloud mechanism: SaaS Platform; Agile Controller; and Cloud-based management platform.
Huawei is also introducing CloudEPN (enterprise private network)/SD-WAN (software defined WAN) - VPN for the ‘cloudified’ enterprise, which aims to reshape enterprise connections. While it used to take a long time to provide services for enterprises when everything was dependent on manual configuration, everything can now be delivered with just one click, cutting lead times from 30 days to less than 10 minutes.
Finally, Libin Dai explained that pulling all these services together is the Huawei Integrated Telco Cloud - the foundation of its Cloud Infrastructure Platform, which he emphasised is an open platform. ‘It is defined by multiple technologies so we need partners, and so it must be open,’ he stressed.
Summing up, he argued that by deploying all Cloud services, operators can reduce costs by up to 50% and provide MPLS over multiple networks. It also enables the opportunity for operators to offer abundant value added services, which can increase revenue by 30%.
New business opportunities
Peter Zhou, CMO, Huawei Wireless, outlined Huawei’s view that there are three major opportunities for today and tomorrow for operators: break into video; head into households; and go into verticals.
Some of these opportunities are being enabled by what Huawei refers to as 4.5G technologies such as Massive MIMO (Japan’s SoftBank has doubled the numbers of subscribers it can support using the same network resources using Massive MIMO).
The newly standardised 4G narrowband IoT technologies (LTE-M1 and NB-IoT) will help operators get into vertical industries by offering more cost effective low power wide area network IoT connectivity.
Looking ahead, Zhou argued that 5G will need new spectrum and mmWave is proving to be a good technology. He pointed to a trial which showed that 3.5 GHz spectrum can reach 1.5km and provide 600Mbps throughput speeds, while using Massive MIMO can boost coverage – so there is no need to add more base stations as many had feared using mmWave would require.
He ended by saying: ‘5G is coming, but we do not need to wait for it to introduce new technologies and business models.’
Making video a business success
Kunlong Li, Director, Carrier Video Business at Huawei, outlined some of the examples where video is boosting operator revenues already, pointing to studies which show 82% of users are willing to pay an extra 10%-30% for 4k video experience.
He added that video is not just about entertainment but operators can offer services in eEducation, eHealth, surveillance and Smart City services (transport; living).
Huawei will be showcasing its new products and is involved in various demonstrations of new technology along with other partners at Mobile World Congress.