Huawei proposes certainty in industry development to jointly stride to 5.5G era
Yang Chaobin, Senior Vice President and President of ICT Products & Solutions at Huawei. (Photo: Contributed)

Huawei has called on industry partners to promote industry consensus and commercial deployments for the 5.5G era and make greater strides to the intelligent world.

It made the call at a '5.5G Is Coming Summit' earlier this month in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023.

Yang Chaobin, Senior Vice President and President of ICT Products & Solutions at Huawei, explained why industry consensus is needed.

"The rapid growth of 5G has led to new service requirements becoming more diverse and complex, requiring stronger 5G capabilities. Taking 5G to its next milestone 5.5G is necessary to improve 5G, which has become an industry trend and an established consensus.

"Now, the industry has defined clear roadmaps for 5G-Advanced (5.5G), F5G-Advanced (F5.5G), and Net5.5G standards and introduced clear spectrum strategies. Key technologies and applications have been verified, and the industry consensus has steadily progressed to best practices. With all these developments, 5.5G is arriving at an accelerating rate to improve network capabilities by 10 times for various industries looking to unleash stronger digital productivity."

Yang noted that, as 6G is still in its early stage of research, 5.5G is a necessary and natural evolution of 5G, and this has become an industry consensus. He believes that the industry must jointly promote 5.5G development in four areas:

1.Clear roadmaps for industry standardization: 5.5G standardization has kicked off, with its technical specifications to be defined in 3GPP Releases 18, 19, and 20. 3GPP Release 18 will be frozen in H1 of 2024. F5.5G has progressed from proposals to specification design. Last September, ETSI released its F5G Advanced White Paper, and it has been leading the formulation of F5.5G's first release, Release 3, which will be frozen in H1 of 2024. IETF and the IEEE have begun working on the first phase of Net5.5G standardization mainly in Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6), Wi-Fi 7, 800GE, and other subjects, with an aim to release the standard in 2024.

2.Clear spectrum strategy: Spectrum is fundamental to wireless networks. The 5.5G industry is now promoting sub-100 GHz to support NR via a twofold strategy. First, legacy spectrum will be refarmed to ensure smooth evolution to 5.5G. Second, joint efforts will be made to ensure that large-bandwidth spectrum mmWave and the upper part of 6 GHz (U6GHz) will be allocated to 5.5G.

3.Steady implementation of industry consensus: 5.5G has become a common goal in the industry. Leading operators are promoting its standardization and technological verification. Led by the GSMA, industry partners established a 5.5G community at the MWC Barcelona 2023. The World Broadband Association (WBBA), founded in 2022, released its "Next Generation Broadband Roadmap" white paper for F5.5G. The leading analyst and consultancy firm Omdia released its Net5.5G white paper last September to align industry roadmaps for faster commercial progress in technical evolution, application scenarios, and industry ecosystem.

4.Smooth evolution for maximized ROI: 5.5G will support key technologies such as spectrum refarming and equipment multimode multiplexing, enabling existing 5G network resources to be integrated on demand for smooth evolution to 5.5G. This will help protect operator investment.

With key technologies maturing and applications successfully verified, the 5.5G era is within reach.

According to Yang, due to the concerted efforts from the industry, 5.5G has achieved many breakthroughs in key technologies. Multiple operators around the world have successfully verified innovative technologies such as extremely large antenna array (ELAA) and Multi-band Serving Cell (MBSC), making 10 Gbps a reality for 5.5G.

The standardization of 50G PON for F5.5G as next-generation PON by the ITU-T and the maturing key technologies such as uplink and downlink symmetry and multi-band in one are paving the way for smooth evolution to F5.5G, he said.

According to Yang, the development of 5.5G and F5.5G will drive IP-based upgrades to open up the era of Net5.5G. This era will see continued enhancement of 800GE ultra-broadband, E2E IPv6+, intelligence, security, and latency, bringing operators new capabilities, products, and opportunities to stimulate growth, he said.

5G is now in the fast lane after three years of commercial use. By the end of 2022, global 5G users exceeded 1 billion, gigabit broadband users reached 100 million, and more than 20,000 industry applications were put into use. New immersive services such as XR and holographic communications are maturing, and connection experiences are improving from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps.

The explosive growth of IoT applications is a clear trend. For example, IoT connections in China outnumbered the connections for people in 2022. Digitalization has expanded deep into core production systems, creating more diverse requirements. For example, 1 Gbps uplink is needed to support high-precision industrial vision for AI-based inspection, remote control in mining industries, self-driving, and other services in which 5G is integrated with cloud and AI.

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