With an average age of only 30.2, and explosive growth of unicorns, Asia Pacific has entered the golden time of digital economy and ICT infrastructure development, driven by sustained demand for ICT infrastructure and abundant digital content for consumers.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has sped up digitalization in Asia Pacific. Since the gradual opening up, major countries in the region are expected to maintain good recovery momentum in 2023, with GDP growth forecasts over 4%, leading to an upgrade in telecom consumption.
The communications industry is expanding at an incredible pace in the Asia-Pacific. The need for connectivity in ICT infrastructure is growing rapidly as businesses and industries advance their digital transformation initiatives and millions of devices become connected thanks to 5G. While this change has given businesses many new opportunities, it has also presented several challenges.
In certain 5G areas, where breakthroughs and deployments are showcasing increasingly fascinating application scenarios and metaverse applications, 5G development is gaining even greater traction. With the advent of 5G, telcos will have a tremendous opportunity to fully realize the promise of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Edge and develop new sources of revenue.
It becomes imperative that 5G networks continue to advance and evolve in order to meet this challenge because rapid development also places increasing demands on the network’s capabilities. Here, based on region-specific 5G network deployment stages, global telco solution supplier Huawei has been closely collaborating with the sector and assisting Asia-Pacific telcos in getting ready for a new era of connectivity.
The features offered by 5G enhance the secure remote execution of mission-critical communications (such as industrial automation and remote healthcare), high-speed video streaming and connecting a vast number of sensors. However, the challenge for telcos is all regions of Asia Pacific are at different stages of 5G deployments.
While some are working to increase 4G speeds and services, others have jumped into 5G deployments to expand coverage. There are many who, while waiting for favourable government policies and rising customer demand to build the 5G infrastructure, nevertheless wish to enhance 4G LTE capabilities.
“The challenge for the industry, is that various countries are at different stages of 5G deployment; some are further along than others. Some nations are still utilizing 4G technology and are working to increase the network’s capability. Although 5G is popular, operators must contend with varying levels of device penetration,” says Abel Deng, President, Carrier Business Group – Asia Pacific Region, Huawei. He was speaking in conversation as part of a roundtable at Mobile World Congress 2023.
Deng continues by stating that there are three ways to the 5G installations. Massive base station deployments for 5G are part of it, and other nations are still building 5G-ready networks and LTE, respectively.
Development of 5G and 5.5G
It is essential that 5G networks continue to develop and advance if they are to completely realize their potential and satisfy the continuously expanding connectivity needs of users. To completely improve network connectivity, switch from connectivity-based development to full-service enablement, and working with industry partners to transition to an intelligent society, Huawei has been actively working on the concept of 5.5G, which may significantly boost new application scenarios and services.
“Broadband speed acceleration and latency reduction are one of the important features of 5.5G. 5G and 5.5G will enable the industries digitalization. For example, to get the automation going, low latency is important, which need 5G or even 5.5G to get higher precise manufacturing; M2M requires high uploading rates, which 5.5G can perfectly meet this demand;” Deng says.
The evolution to 5.5G, which will be characterized by improvements in enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC), and Massive Machine-Type Communications (MMTC), as well as new capabilities for sensing, passive IoT, positioning, and intelligence, is being driven by emerging 2C and 2B applications, which call for further advancements in 5G capabilities.
But is 5.5 G a whole new network? “The idea is to upgrade the existing network but will need to be done on a case-by-case basis,” Deng clarifies.
Improving the infrastructure for connectivity
Several cutting-edge products and services have been offered by Huawei (H) to the Asia Pacific region. It sets aside over 25.1% of its 2022 annual income for R&D. The company’s market-leading technologies, such as Blade AAU and META AAU, which have been used by some of its most significant clients, may increase customer satisfaction and capacity while reducing energy usage by up to 30%.
It is helping APAC telcos gradually evolve from traditional networks to “autonomous networks” to achieve high-quality 5G development and intelligent O&M (NSOC O&M Mode).
Huawei, one of the few in the market to offer a full suite of ICT solutions with ‘cloud-pipe-device’ synergy, combining the physical and digital worlds, has established more than 160 Smart Cities in more than 100 nations and regions. Particularly in the Asia Pacific, its solutions have assisted Pattaya in reducing traffic bottlenecks by more than 30%, increasing travellers by more than 10%, and boosting operators’ profits through high-value connections.
Another example for Asia-Pacific is its collaboration with SCG, a leading conglomerate that runs its operations in accordance with ESG criteria to create autonomous driving systems using 5G technology. The self-driving capability has helped SCG reduce energy consumption by more than 50% and improves transportation efficiency by 8%.
Deng asserts that utilizing digital technologies, especially 5G, is expanding prospects. The industry must always consider how things will be in ten years, and Huawei is taking steps to modernize our networks and embrace the chances. “We are working with various carriers to build amazing 5G application cases. ” says Deng.