Chinese vendor Huawei has already secured 40 contracts to build and operate 5G networks, the company’s rotating CEO, Ken Hu said. The announcement was made at a keynote speech at the vendor’s 2019 Global Analyst Summit at its headquarter in Shenzhen in southern China.
RCR Wireless News discussed the company’s 5G vision in an interview with Chaobin Yang, president of Huawei’s 5G product line.
Q: Huawei says it has shipped 70,000 5G base stations; what functionalities exist in those units?
A: All of the 70,000 5G base stations that we have shipped are based on 3GPP Release 15, among which 97% of them use the massive MIMO technology, and the remaining 3% are the ordinary RRUs.
Q: The U.S. media and the U.S. government regularly characterize 5G as a race. Who, in your opinion, is winning the race?
A: I think regarding 5G as a race is an overstatement. In its essence, 5G is the next generation of mobile communications technology, which mainly serves to meet the actual needs of the consumers and homes at different regions and different markets. According to our analysis, the global market can be divided into three categories. The first category includes China, South Korea, Japan and Gulf countries in the Middle East. Their current 4G network is already congested, so there is a need for 5G roll out. The second category includes Europe and the United States. Their LTE development hasn’t been that great, so there is some need for 5G in some areas of those countries. But it will not be a huge need as it is in first category. The rest of the countries belong to the third category.
Q: What’s the role of 5G in smart cities and what do you see as the timing of 5G in smart cities and then could you give some examples?
A: People in different cities and countries have different definitions on the term “smart city”. 5G can provide higher bandwidth, lower latency and more connections. So we believe that in the future, 5G will play a big role in smart cities. However, it doesn’t mean that the building of a smart city has to wait till 5G is available. Instead, we can start developing IoT applications using the current 3G and 4G networks.
Q: Can you expand on the relationship between 5G and IoT?
A: IoT is applied to a wide range of scenarios, which can be realized with different technologies. If there is a need for wide coverage and low power consumption, such as LPWA, then the current 4G NB-IoT can meet such need. However, NB-IoT enabled connectivity has a long latency with a low bandwidth, so in scenarios where there is a need for higher bandwidth and lower latency, it can be achieved by 5G.
Q: What are your thoughts on regional variations of 5G deployments? In the U.S., carriers are deploying millimeter wave 5G whereas in other parts of the world, they are deploying in mid-band or low-band?
A: It is very critical for a mobile communications network to provide consumers with ubiquitous service. If it is a 5G network that can be used outdoors, but not indoors, or if it can be used at some places, but not at some other places, then it is not the goal of developing such a mobile communications network. Millimeter wave has the weaknesses in penetrating walls, and it will experience high signal fluctuations in the NLOS（Non Line of Sight）scenario. Therefore, if we want to use millimeter wave alone to cover a nationwide network, it will be very challenging and costly. Second, in terms of the mid-frequency band, such as 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz, if the operator can obtain spectrum with 100 megahertz bandwidth, added with the massive MIMO technology, then it is possible for that operator to build a nationwide network. In this way, the users will be able to enjoy speed at several hundred Mbps or even more than 1 Gbps at every corner. In terms of the low frequency band, it will play a quite important role in in-depth coverage in rural areas for the 5G network.
Q: For your customers, the mobile carriers, where’s the biggest revenue opportunity– 5G consumer market or the 5G industrial market?
A: Our customers, namely those operators, will benefit from both markets. As different operators may have different positioning, the ratio between the benefits from these two markets would vary. One thing is certain though. In the first stage of 5G deployment, the benefits will first be found in the consumer market. It is clear that 5G can provide a much better user experience. We estimate that user experience will be improved by 10 times. At the same time, it will greatly reduce the cost per bit for operators, which we estimate that it will reduce by 10 times. Therefore, in the first stage of 5G deployment, operators can profit from the consumer market. During the second stage of 5G deployment, with the development of IoT and the growing need for ultra-low latency, the operators will gradually find new opportunities from different verticals.
Q: How will AI and machine learning help mobile operators manage and troubleshoot increasingly complex software based 5G networks?
A: Higher and higher OPEX is a common challenge faced by the operators across the world. In the past 10 years and more, the operators’ OPEX has increased from 62% to 75%. Therefore, when the operators are deploying the 5G network, they will need to introduce new capabilities, such as intelligent network planning and optimization to reduce OPEX. At the same time, they need to introduce multi-band network management capability to reduce the electricity bills of the entire network. When the operators are deploying the 5G network, they normally will operate four to five bands, and even six to eight bands at the same time. Each band will consume electricity. With the intelligent management functionality, it can help operators to save their electricity bills. Currently, network optimization requires a lot of manual work, drive test and parameter configuration. With the intelligent technologies, those work could be replaced by machines.
Q: How will virtualized RAN impact telecom equipment sellers’ revenue streams?
A: We think it will be very difficult to use vRAN in the telecommunications network. The base station is an equipment that is deployed at the end point. In addition, it is deployed across multiple sites. So we have to consider two factors. First, the base station needs to be lightweight and compact. Second, considering that the base station will be deployed at multiple sites, the power consumption has to be as low as possible. Only when these two factors are met can the operators greatly reduce their networking cost. Based on our analysis, the general servers used for handling base stations will see an increase of power consumption by 10 times and more. This will generate huge electricity bills that the operators cannot afford.―RCR Wireless News