Huawei Enabling Cloudification of Networks for Future-Proof Telecoms Transformation


An Interaction with Huawei |

As a global telecoms player Huawei is putting a lot of focus and effort towards enabling an All-Cloud strategy in place for carriers, telecom operators and CSPs in order to realise future-proof transformation of telecoms.

Huawei’s All-Cloud strategy involves fully upgrading network infrastructure in three respects – network cloudification, service cloudification, and operations cloudification.

Chandan Kumar, Director, Marketing, Huawei India interacts with Zia Askari from about Huawei’s cloud strategy and why it is important for telecoms to invest in Cloud today.

How does Huawei look at growing importance of Cloud in the telecoms space?

As everything is migrating to the cloud and all industries go digital, carriers must use their strengths in data transmission to deliver a broad range of services to verticals in the form of cloud – including computing, storage, networking, IoT, and video. By changing their service models, carriers can grow their market, boost profits, and make themselves more competitive by offering faster TTM and scalable resource allocation.

                   Chandan Kumar – Huawei India

Carriers will shift from providing equipment to providing cloud services, and build customer loyalty and achieve sustainable growth by offering a variety of targeted services and upgrading service quality.

Cloud as a service will greatly expand the scope of services to be provided, which will focus on both CAPEX and OPEX, instead of only CAPEX. For the enterprise IT service market, after the scope of services provided is expanded to also include OPEX, the market will be expanded by US$1 trillion.

The way cloud services are provided will reduce the TTM of new services by over 90%, from months to days.

Huawei aims to become an advocate, a driver, and ultimately a leader of All-Cloud. Through the full cloudification of our products and solutions, we hope to enable our carrier and enterprise customers to achieve digital transformation and digital operations.

Why is an All Cloud mobile network strategy so relevant?

Carrier networks have evolved from traditional time division multiplexing (TDM) networks to All IP networks. In the future, they will evolve towards All-Cloud networks and will carry more complex and personalized services with higher requirements on reliability – such as HD video, IoT, and high-quality enterprise applications. Huawei will help fuel carriers’ new growth through an All-Cloud strategy.

Huawei’s All-Cloud strategy involves fully upgrading network infrastructure in three respects – network cloudification, service cloudification, and operations cloudification. The strategy aims to create systematic strengths in pooled hardware resources, distributed software architecture, and fully-automated operations. The ultimate goal is to achieve end-to-end network orchestration, resource flexibility, and fully-automated agile operations.

Network cloudification will fully transform networks into data-center-centric networks, and all network functions, services, and applications will run on cloud data centers. Operations cloudification is about delivering a ROADS experience to end users through agile operations. Service cloudification will change the way carriers provide services, and all of their services will be provided in the form of cloud. By offering a unified, open architecture, carriers will be able to meet customers’ needs in different business scenarios – including public cloud, private cloud, industry cloud, and hybrid cloud.

While IT cloud has become the new normal, not too many are aware of an all-could mobile network. What’s the difference between the two?

IT cloud stands for the geographical centralisation and pool-based sharing of calculation and storage resources. This approach significantly improves the resource utilisation efficiency. However, the two major physical resources for mobile access networks, baseband resources and air interface, are geographically dispersed and located in close proximity to users.

The deployment of cloud-based wireless network differs from that of IT cloud. We are looking to realise the true value of the cloud, which features efficient utilisation of all resources, on-demand deployment of all network elements, and the rapid provision of all services. To mobile operators, the air interface resources, including spectrum, transmission power, transceiver etc., are the most essential resources, thus air interface resource cloudification should be considered as one of the most important aspects for an All Cloud strategy.

Setting up an infrastructure to support the highly dynamic network requirements of a business or a telecom operator requires a lot of time, resources and investment. How can the All Cloud mobile network strategy help with this?

CloudRAN and CloudAIR are two solutions for our cloud-based wireless network. CloudRAN addresses the cloudification of the baseband resources. It enables on-demand deployment, auto scaling, swift service provisioning, and additional cloud benefits through the introduction of mechanisms such as hierarchical decoupling and function modularisation.

In addition, Huawei is exploring the possibilities of mobile edge computing (MEC), which can support things like precise advertising, video acceleration and the internet of vehicles. These applications will help unlock latent network potential for operators while boosting return on investment.

Why is uplink and downlink decoupling such an important feature of CloudAIR?

Uplink and downlink decoupling technology entails two plausible scenarios. On LTE networks, through decoupling, we can allocate high frequency bands for downlink, low frequency bands for uplink, and effectively resolve the issue of asymmetric coverage between the two. This greatly improves the user experience. Uplink and downlink decoupling can also expedite 5G deployment. For instance, it allows 3.5GHz networks to share the LTE 1.8GHz frequency band for uplink. That way a 3.5GHz network can enjoy similar coverage to that of a 1.8GHz network.

What are the type of resources and investments Huawei is putting behind the All Cloud initiative?

Huawei is committed to continual investment in All Cloud technologies to facilitate operators’ transformation. We are now exploring cloudification technologies with leading operators through a joint-venture organisation called the Mobile Innovation Centre. Our global research centres also are devoted to pushing breakthroughs in core CloudRAN and CloudAIR technologies. We have established dedicated labs for cloud-based wireless network to further assist in the rapid development of this challenging endeavour.

Huawei has partnered with global operators to conduct Proof of Concept (POC) tests on All Cloud wireless network architecture. Has it moved beyond POC phase? Please share some of the global customer names who are using this? Any customers for this in India yet?

This year CloudRAN will be primarily engaged in the proof-of-concept stage (POC). Huawei has launched CloudRAN POC testing with five major operators. CloudAIR on the other hand is already established for commercial use. For spectrum cloudification, India and Nigeria have assumed the lead in deploying GSM to UMTS spectrum sharing, allowing both countries to enjoy enhanced 3G coverage and a 30 per cent to 55 per cent increase in 3G data traffic, while 2G network performance remains stable.

For transceiver channel cloudification, we have tested distributed multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) with China Mobile and SoftBank in Japan, and observed a 35 per cent increase in average cell throughput, and an 80 per cent increase in data rate for cell edge users.

How does a cloud driven strategy help operators better embrace for the evolution towards 5G?

5G is no longer a distant dream but a ground reality and it will significantly impact mobile networks, But how operators can monetize the technology is not immediately obvious; for example the massive applications will not need to use much bandwidth or communicate very often, so the revenue from data transport will not be a replacement for the mobile revenues of old.  Instead of looking to connectivity and transport, operators should consider applications and value added services instead to secure new revenues. While determining what these might look like, operators should also be looking at ways to adapt and scale so that they are fully prepared for whatever might come next.

The ability to scale and adapt quickly will be key to delivering these new revenue generating, value added services and embracing cloud technologies will be needed in order to do so. The implementation and deployment of cloud-based platforms for new products and services allows operators to gain agility through virtualization. Rather than needing the upfront, CapEx costs associated with investing in new infrastructure, virtualized platforms offer pay-as-you-grow options and complete systems management. In turn, this outsourcing affect will also allow the operator to scale up or down dynamically depending on market demands and enable shifts between business models and strategies to more effectively compete.

What are your near-term plans in pushing forward the All Cloud mobile network strategy?

We intend to lay the foundation for the commercial launch of CloudRAN in 2018 by conducting POC tests with major operators like China Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange. In terms of GSM/UMTS and GSM/LTE spectrum sharing, Huawei expects to have around 50 commercial deployments by 2018 in about 20 countries, including Bulgaria, Poland, Egypt, Turkey, Tanzania, Uganda, Laos, Sri-Lanka and Thailand.