Huawei: Leading the next phase of 5G advances in the GCC

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Huawei: Leading the next phase of 5G advances in the GCC
The deployment of 5.5G brings forth an abundance of anticipated use cases and improved real-life experiences

The 5G network was first introduced five years ago, and since its initial rollout, the technology has transformed how we live, connect, and work. The technology enabled communication to shift from voice and SMS to video, mobile communications networks. It also empowered new applications and services like glasses-free 3D, XR, and cloud phones, further bringing new immersive and interactive experiences.

The deployment of 5G networks has been rapid. As of June this year, there were over 260 commercial 5G networks worldwide, more than 1.2 billion 5G users, and over 50,000 5G industry applications. Closer to home, Middle Eastern countries were amongst the first few globally to embrace this revolutionary technology. The global tech giant Huawei was a preferred partner of choice across the region, thanks to their industry-leading technologies, products, solutions, and strong track record of success. The company’s long-standing investments in R&D proved to be a key differentiator.

Investing in R&D

In 2022 alone, Huawei has significantly intensified its investment in R&D in recent years, allocating $23.2 billion. This substantial R&D investment amounts to 25.1 percent of the company’s annual revenue. According to data revealed in the company’s 2022 annual report, Huawei has 114,000+ employees. A staggering 55.4 percent of its total workforce works in R&D. Huawei has one of the largest patent portfolios in the world. It boasts a total of 120,000+ active patents as of 2022 end.

“Huawei has more than 13 years’ worth of investment into 5G,” said Emaad Ahmed, chief expert CNBG at Huawei Middle East & Central Asia.

“More than 115 million 5G users have also been developed as a result. 5G has been widely used in the industry. In the Middle East, Huawei has helped 14 operators deploy 5G networks since 2018, helping our customers lead in 5G experience. With such numbers, 5G business has undoubtedly achieved great success,” he added.

5G advances
Emaad Ahmed, chief expert CNBG at Huawei Middle East & Central Asia

Powering 5G in the GCC

According to Ahmed, operators in the GCC have also seamlessly integrated 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) into their commercial offerings. Leading operators have launched wireless home broadband packages, attracting more than 2.5 million subscribers so far,” he continued.

In the Middle East alone, 60,000 5G private lines have been developed. In other business sectors, Huawei cooperates with operators in oil and gas, ports, and new cities to improve their production and operation efficiency, enhance security operations, and greatly reduce OPEX in these scenarios by leveraging 5G’s low latency, high reliability, and large uplink capabilities.

Success stories

To further illustrate Huawei’s progress in the region, Ahmed shared several successful use cases of 5G, including:

Bahrain – stc

stc Bahrain has taken an early and decisive lead in 5G rollout in Bahrain. It has already covered half the nation of 1.64 million with the latest wireless technology. In line with its vision of transforming Bahrain into a “world-class digital enabler”, stc Bahrain recently revealed plans to develop the foundation for a 5.5G network.

Oman – Omantel

The contribution of 5G to Omantel’s business success is evident in its ability to bridge market gaps and create new use cases. The launch of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) addressed the demand for high-speed broadband in underserved areas, contributing to the company’s top and bottom line. Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, 5G played a crucial role in meeting the heightened demand for high-speed connections.

Kuwait – Zain

Zain Kuwait’s 5G traffic currently accounts for more than 50 percent of its total wireless traffic, ranking the operator as number one in GCC countries in terms of 5G offload ratio. Zain Kuwait is one of the leading telecom operators in MENA and has been at the forefront of innovation for years as the first operator to launch commercial 5G services in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia – Zain

Zain has experienced significant business success with the early adoption of 5G services in Saudi Arabia since 2019. The company is now poised to advance further with 5.5G and has strategically implemented carrier aggregation over 5G.

United Arab Emirates – du

du, a pioneer in 5G technology, has significantly invested in developing its network infrastructure, leading to expanded 5G coverage across the UAE. Despite the long-term return on investment, du has already seen positive responses from the market, acquiring a substantial number of 5G and Home Wireless Access subscribers.

New advances

While 5G technology is gaining traction globally, Ahmed says Huawei continues to push the boundaries for innovation with the upcoming rollout of 5.5G technology.

The term “5G-Advanced” denotes the advancement and extension of 5G technology, signifying its role as an intermediary step and foundational bridge towards the development of future wireless technology. This advancement will elevate the technical prowess of communication networks. Capacity is likely to increase a minimum of tenfold over standard 5G.

Moreover, 5.5G is anticipated to bring about transformative capabilities such as comprehensive sensing, passive IoT, and native intelligence. 5.5G differentiates itself from previous generations by incorporating sensory communication capable of conveying complex multisensory data. These include taste, touch, smell, and potentially thought.

“This breakthrough enables unprecedented cross-sensory communication, promising unique user experiences and catalyzing the digital and intelligent transformation across various sectors, stimulating growth in areas like naked-eye 3D technology, the low-altitude economy, and the internet of everything,” Ahmed explained.

Potential impact

The deployment of 5.5G brings forth an abundance of anticipated use cases and improved real-life experiences. Designed as an enhanced version of 5G, 5.5G promises faster data speeds, lower latency, and improved network reliability. It will lead to transformative advancements in various domains as the technology continues to evolve.

Ahmed added, “I am super excited about the potential that passive IoT and RedCap will bring to the equation. I will give a simple example. Today, in a warehouse for inventory management, someone has to go box by box to log the stock. What if there could be a stick-on passive IoT barcode instead, which, on the click of a button, responds instantaneously for all sensors across the warehouse! This will truly transform how we look at logistics.”

Application and verification

Huawei has worked with over 30 operators around the world on technological verification and application pilots for these technologies.

For instance, the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) declared the triumph of Phase II of the “5G-Advanced” trials project. The project was carried out in August this year in collaboration with UAE telecom service providers, etisalat by e& and du.

In September, Zain KSA unveiled new developments on the 5G-Advanced network, in collaboration with Huawei. Keen to bring about an era of unmatched connectivity, the two companies are presently engaged in the ‘5.5G City Innovation Project.’

Last October, du and Huawei unveiled the ground-breaking world’s first 5G Advanced (5G-A) demonstration Villa. The 5G-A Villa epitomizes the seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies. It offers an unparalleled smart home experience enriched with applications such as naked-eye 3D and XR, through 10Gbps networks.

Likely scenarios

In the 5.5G era, Huawei envisions the realization of the following scenarios:

Glasses-free 3D

The glasses-free 3D industry ecosystem is maturing fast. Breakthroughs in technologies, including cloud rendering and real-time 3D virtual humans will take immersive experiences to new heights. Moving forward, more and more devices like mobile phones and TVs will support glasses-free 3D. This will drive data traffic up by a factor of ten relative to 2D video.

Self-guided vehicles

By 2025, there will be more than 500 million smart vehicles on the road. With high-bandwidth and low-latency networks, smart vehicles will be able to share information with people, vehicles, roads, and the cloud in real time. In assisted-driving scenarios, smart vehicles will consume more than 300 gigabytes of data every month for cloud-based model training and weekly algorithm updates. In self-driving scenarios, data consumption will rise by a factor of 100.

Next-gen manufacturing

With breakthroughs in capabilities like network slicing and edge computing, the number of 5G private networks for enterprise use has increased a hundredfold. Moreover, the market size has grown to over $10 billion. However, as production lines become more flexible, increasingly reliant on wireless networks, and more core production systems are deployed on the cloud, higher requirements are posed on 5G networks.

Generalized cellular IoT

There are more than three billion mobile IoT connections around the world, and 5G now connects more things than people. In the near future, 5G will support a broader range of IoT technologies like medium-speed RedCap and Passive IoT. This will provide more options for different IoT scenarios, allowing for more efficient flow of data, information, and computing power. For example, in the home appliance manufacturing sector, Passive IoT can help provide visibility along the entire distribution and production chain. and has helped increase overall productivity by 30 percent in verification trials.

Intelligent computing

With the rise of new developments in AI, such as foundation models, demand for AI computing power will see explosive growth. By 2025, this demand is expected to be 100 times greater than current levels. To unleash the full potential of AI computing power, more advanced network capabilities are key. Networks will need to have larger bandwidth and lower latency to power truly intelligent connectivity. In addition, as traffic models begin to change, future networks will need to be more autonomous and intelligent to deliver a reliable experience.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 5.5G

As the world moves into the 5.5G era, its integration with AI is expected to revolutionize many sectors by providing the high-speed, low-latency, and reliable connectivity that AI systems require for optimal performance.

For May Li, vice president of solution marketing at Huawei Middle East & Central Asia, 5.5G will be a critical enabler for advanced AI applications. These include autonomous vehicles and remote medical procedures, by offering the necessary network improvements to support these technologies.

“The introduction of 5.5G will push edge computing from a conceptual stage to an essential part of business strategy. This will allow for more immediate data processing at the source rather than in distant data centers. Additionally, it will lead to transformative changes in urban development, manufacturing, and the Internet of Things (IoT). This will further propel us toward more efficient and insightful operations across the board,” Li explained.

5G advances
May Li, vice president of solution marketing at Huawei Middle East & Central Asia

IoT and safeguards

Meanwhile, for the IoT ecosystem, Li believes 5.5G will play a central role in creating a seamlessly connected world where AI can work harmoniously with billions of devices, facilitating large-scale automation and data analysis. “This will lead to smarter residential, agricultural, and urban infrastructure, boosting productivity and fostering better environmental management,” she continued.

Nonetheless, the deployment of 5.5G brings to the forefront the need for robust security measures to safeguard sensitive information and maintain privacy.

The technology is poised to fulfill the complex demands of AI-driven systems while prioritizing sustainability. This will help support the expansion of AI capabilities without exerting a negative environmental impact.

Overall, 5.5G is anticipated to lay the groundwork for significant strides in industry innovation and the broader application of AI.

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