At the Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2020 (HAS 2020), Gan Bin, Vice President of Huawei‘s Wireless Network Product Line, delivered a keynote speech on “Simplification and Convergence Empower 5G Business Success”. Gan elaborated on the importance of simplified, converged 5G networks to cater for the three dominant trends facing the 5G industry.
Trend 1: from TDD-based Scaled Deployment to TDD+FDD Coordinated Deployment
In the first wave of global 5G rollout, Massive MIMO predominantly using TDD spectra has become a standard practice. In China alone, 200,000 such sites have been constructed and the number is expected to hit 800,000 by the end of 2020 in more than 340 cities. Speedtest has reported a ten-fold data rate improvement on 5G networks over 4G networks.
Additionally, Massive MIMO using TDD 3.5 GHz are co-sited with legacy 4G networks to ensure satisfactory coverage both outdoors and in easy-to-cover indoor areas.
While TDD is intrinsically limited in uplink coverage and experience, FDD naturally ensures balanced transmission in the uplink and downlink. FDD provides better in-depth coverage indoors, and enables operators to quickly roll out 5G using existing resources. For some European countries where 5G is made compulsory, TDD and FDD convergence can deliver a better experience and coverage, particularly in the uplink. This convergence will further meet high uplink bandwidth requirements of B2B applications.
Trend 2: from B2C and B2H Only to B2C, B2H, and B2B All-round Development
Current 5G commercial networks are mainly designed around B2C and B2H services, which is far from enough to fulfill the ultimate goal of B2B applications that call for industry-wide digitalization. 5G networks now are enough to accommodate high-speed enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) applications in industries.
In reference to smart healthcare, for instance, China-Japan Friendship Hospital provides 5G HD video-based teleconsultation, West China Second University Hospital has implemented 5G-based ICU visits and mobile ward rounds, and 5G network coverage has been provided in over 300 hospitals in China.
Industrial applications that require low latency and high reliability based on ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC), such as port, manufacturing, vehicle-to-everything (V2X), and power grid, are also being explored, with standards, technical verifications, and industrial incubation under discussion and implementation. Such applications will sure see commercial adoption as 5G network capabilities further support URLLC.
Trend 3: OPEX Decrease Drives 5G Business Success
In the 5G era, operating expenses must be reduced holistically, since the co-existence of multiple RATs and frequency bands is inevitable. For one thing, 2G and 3G phase-out (17 networks already abandoned globally and 12 to be phased out) will fundamentally help operators cut OPEX. For another, simplified deployment saves site deployment costs for operators. Additionally, multi-RAT and multi-band coordination improves network O&M and energy efficiency.
To go with these trends, how will Huawei help operators achieve 5G business success in all service scenarios by building simplified 5G networks that deliver multi-band coordination and superior experience while continuously reducing OPEX? Mr. Gan is here to explain.
Convergence Enable Simplified 5G Deployment and Continuous 5G Premium Experience
5G network construction must take both capacity and coverage into full consideration from the beginning to ensure consistent user experience. Macro base stations are the core of 5G network experience and coverage. Pole sites fill coverage holes in areas where site deployment is difficult. Indoor micro base stations provide optimal experience for users in high-value areas.
The growing number of access technologies, bands, and modules is placing global operators under increased challenges to obtain enough space for antenna installation. For macro sites, Huawei’s Blade AAU enables a high level of integration between TDD Massive MIMO AAU and FDD passive antennas in one box. This allows for simplified TDD+FDD deployment by utilizing the existing poles, helping shortens the deployment time by 85%. For pole sites, Huawei’s TDD+FDD converged Easy Macro 3.0 and Book RRU 3.0 enable one-time deployment to fill up both 4G and 5G coverage holes, while also allowing FDD bands to provide TDD anchoring in NSA architecture. This facilitates smooth evolution to 5G on FDD bands through software upgrade. In terms of indoor micro base stations, LampSite also supports TDD+FDD convergence, enabling operators to significantly improve 4G and 5G user experience in high-value indoor areas with one-time network deployment.
Multi-Band Collaboration Enhances 5G Industry Application Capabilities with Greatly Improved 5G Uplink Experience and Coverage
In addition to mainstream TDD bands, sub-3 GHz FDD bands allow 5G networks to quickly achieve coverage in some countries. Deploying 5G on new FDD spectrum offers an effective approach to greatly improve spectral efficiency and user experience. For 5G networks on legacy FDD spectrum, dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) enables millisecond-level dynamic allocation of spectrum resources between LTE and 5G services, which is conductive to maximizing spectral efficiency. Huawei’s dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) solution had been commercially verified and deployed in Europe by November 2019.
Super Uplink enables FDD uplink spectra to supplement TDD bands. This enables TDD and FDD spectrum coordination, improving uplink capability and reducing transmission latency. Also, uplink-only deployment can be implemented to further improve uplink performance. In commercial networks, with TDD supplemented with FDD uplink spectra, Super Uplink allows for a maximum of uplink experience improvement by four times. The Super Uplink industry chain is increasingly mature from chips, modules, to terminals, accelerating E2E network maturity.
Facing continuously diverse industry applications and higher uplink experience requirements, the industry is exploring and verifying uplink-only deployment on high-bandwidth spectrum, such as 100 MHz bandwidth. With full-uplink high-bandwidth spectrum further supplementing TDD in the uplink, 5G will achieve an uplink peak rate of over 1 Gbps, supporting future industry application exploration and commercial adoption.
Converged Architecture Empowers Full-Service Development and 5G Full-Service Business Success
SA is commonly regarded as the target architecture of 5G networks. E2E NSA and SA dual stack facilitates simultaneous access of NSA and SA terminals, enabling operators to cost-effectively develop full-service capabilities covering B2C, B2H, and B2B scenarios. For B2C and B2H services, preferential access to NSA networks will better provide users with premium 5G experience. NSA dual connectivity ensures that such premium 5G experience is ubiquitous. For B2B services, preferential access to SA networks allows industries to better explore and commercially deploy industry applications.
SA is also essential for 5G network slicing. E2E slicing incorporates radio access networks, core networks, transport networks, and terminals. It supports automatic generation, management, and operation of network slices, allowing operators to meet differentiated industrial requirements on the same infrastructure. As a result, all B2C, B2H, and B2B developments can be achieved over one 5G network to better serve industrial digitalization.
As network capabilities continue to improve, network slicing will tap into its full potential. To date, wireless networks already provide eMBB slices for high-definition and ultra-high-definition video services, delivering optimal eMBB experience. URLLC slices are expected to be available by 2021 to empower smart port, smart manufacturing, and smart grids. As wireless networks enhance further in low latency and high reliability, slices for Internet of Vehicles (IoV) will be supported.
AI-Based Intelligent Networks Continuously Improve Efficiency and Reduce OPEX
In addition to technological and product innovation, AI-based network coordination to improve energy efficiency and reduce O&M costs offers another way to comprehensively lower OPEX.
Innovative processing and algorithms, as well as advanced hardware materials and heat dissipation technologies, have enabled 5G networks to achieve an energy efficiency 50 times higher than 4G. AI-based coordinated energy saving meets different service requirements in various scenarios. It uses coordinated shutdown technologies at the levels of symbols, channels, and carriers between multiple RATs and bands to improve network-level energy saving without compromising network KPIs. Ultimately, 5G will be 100 times more energy efficient than 4G.
Gan concluded, “Only converged and simplified networks can deliver full-service business success in the 5G era. Huawei is working with its partners to make this a reality.”