In the run up to the Asia Communication Awards in Singapore this month, Total Telecom caught up with Konesh Kochhal, Director for Industry Engagement, Southern Pacific Strategy Marketing Department at Huawei, to find out how the region is preparing for 5G

What is the significance of 5G as a technology, compared to previous generations?

When Huawei looks at 5G, we consider it not just being a technological evolution but an ecosystem shift towards connecting people, things and Enterprises.Previous generations have addressed the paradigm of the connectivity of people. Now with 5G coming in, we as ecosystem need to bridge all of the gaps that previous generations had, and that leads to the development of specific use cases for internet of things, enterprises and vertical Industries. In the past, we had exclusive infrastructures serving a particular use case from these aspects and you had a lot of investment going in on building, optimizing and maintaining those services.

5G technology by addressing the gaps around previous technology generations like ubiquitous coverage layer for connecting people to people, people to things and things to things, supporting large capacities by combining varied Spectrum bands to form a single large pipe, and ultra-low latency communication, ultra-low power consuming device support that would allow delivery of better grade of service for people, things and enterprises alike. Further 5G technology would also enable smooth evolution from current infrastructure thus ensuring protection of huge investment that the ecosystem has done over the past few decades, while embracing newer services like e-governance, mission critical applications, Smart cities and vertical Industry integration in a secured, efficient, effective and resilient digital environment.


What are the benefits and implications of 5G for businesses and consumers in the region?

Businesses and Consumers embrace technologies that bring value to them. For consumers connectivity is fundamental and service experience and affordability defines the value one gets from using a service. With 5G technology’s robust capacity and multi-service support capabilities, the creation and delivery cost per bit will certainly reduce while dramatically increasing the experience levels.

For Businesses and vertical industries across the region, transforming digitally means driving higher productivity and efficiency so that more value can be created and the benefits can be passed on to the end user.5G technology provides an ideal digital platform to exploit applications such as virtual reality and augmented reality to implement automation and intelligence for effective operations, processes and evolved value chains.

5G enables three key dimensions of future communications including 100 billion connections, 1 millisecond latency, 10+ years of battery life for IoT devices and 10 Gbps throughput.

5G networks will drive change and transformation by bringing together wireless connectivity, mobility, IoT, cloud computing and big data. However, Countries in the region are at different levels of digital maturity depending on present communication and Information technology networks, status of Industry digitisation, availability of local content, enabling policy and regulation framework and digitally aware consumers. 


How ready is Asia in terms of rolling out 5G?

Currently the ecosystem seems to be exploring the potential of technology and identifying the initial use cases ranging from key big sporting events, Industrial automation, autonomous vehicles, smart Cities, etc. While both the 5G NSA and SA standards now in place, identification of more spectrum and bands is in progress, more and more use cases and networks are being tested for the potential services for consumers and Vertical Industries, these all lead to a positive development path to realise 5G within next 3-5 years in Asia along with the rest of the world.

Looking at the most recent international games that were hosted in South Korea and the upcoming ones in other part of Asia, operators across the continent are actively using these as opportunities to test out such integrated use cases where many aspects of 5G are deployed and showcased.

Huawei began investing in 5G technology research in 2009, over the past eight years, Huawei has worked closely with partners from all regions of the world, governments, regulatory agencies, research organisations, academia, industry, and industries to define requirements, research technologies, and develop standards hand in hand.

Recently, Huawei conducted 5G tests and verification with the world’s leading operators in more than 10 cities, including China, South Korea, and Japan.

Through all this while the potential of the 5G technology is increasingly being clear, leading countries where the digital ecosystem is comparatively mature in terms of availability of robust and resilient ICT infrastructure, digitally transformed Industries and Cloud adoption, IR4.0 initiatives are working in an accelerated manner to prepare themselves to embrace the shift.


How can we overcome the hurdles blocking the path to 5G implementation?

Any ecosystem shift comes with its own set of challenges and the 5G shift has challenges in the form of digital maturity depending on present communication and Information technology networks, the status of Industry digitisation, availability of local content, enabling policy and regulation framework and digitally aware consumers. 

The Ecosystem elements are coming together in a collaborative way to overcome these challenges effectively. International regulator and standard organisations have taken several actions to ensure smooth implementation of 5G networks. For instance, 3GPP TSG RAN Plenary Meeting in Portugal had successfully completed the first implementable 5G NR specification. ITU through WRC-19 is all set to identify and sort out the new spectrum bands and related issues. Many leaders in the telecommunications industry including China Mobile, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Huawei, Intel to name a few, have committed to start full-scale development of 5G NR for large-scale trials and commercial deployments as early as in 2019.

In the past few years alone, Huawei has actively worked with global partners and authorities to enable faster implementation of 5G, by Investing $600 million annually for 5G research, established 11 5G research centres internationally with more than 3,000 dedicated experts.

In 2018, Huawei collaborated with partners to realise a 5G trial commercial network and build a comprehensive industry ecosystem to identify 5G commercial use cases. A few examples from this initiative include the completion of world’s first 5G call and dual connectivity using 3GPP R15 NSA Standard with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom.

Intel and Huawei achieved the world’s first 5G NR Interoperability test in an operational environment, while Telefónica and Huawei completed the world’s first Proof-of-Concept test of 5G-V2X Radio for uRLLC Assisted Driving.


In your opinion, what is the future of telecommunications networks?

To realise the potential of technology to enable better connected societies, telecom networks are the best infrastructure available today to ensure digital ecosystem development for a better tomorrow. These networks have to sustain investments in capacity and experience improvement for value creation and delivery to the end user, industries and enterprises. The prioritisation of convergence, virtualisation, cloud, IoT, etc will help realise a win-win environment for consumer and service provider alike. As part of the same ecosystem Huawei promises to bring digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world.