Huawei is eager to see telecoms operators move to the next evolution of 5G mobile technology and has launched a raft of new equipment, software and guidance to encourage them to do so.

Mary Lennighan

February 27, 2024

3 Min Read

The Chinese equipment maker is one of the strongest champions of 5G-Advanced – or 5.5G, as it prefers to call it – and this week at Mobile World Congress has been bigging up progress in the market... arguably to too great an extent. But it is also doing its part to drive things forward.

"The first year of commercial use of 5.5G has officially arrived, and the commercial rollout of 5.5G is accelerating worldwide," the vendor said, as it presented a series of innovation practices to help operators get to the point of commercial launch.

"While Middle Eastern operators have achieved scaled 5.5G commercialization, operators across Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America are verifying 10 Gbps, preparing for 5.5G commercialization in 2024," Huawei said.

It's true that there has been greater progress on 5G-Advanced in the Middle East than elsewhere in the world, but Huawei's implication that networks are commercially deployed, and at scale, is a bit of a stretch. As CCS Insight wrote last month, "operators are deploying greenfield networks in new cities, such as STC in Bahrain and Zain in Saudi Arabia, both of which have achieved 10 Gbps downlink speeds on their 5G-Advanced test networks."

Nonetheless, operators the world over are looking at 5G-Advanced. And we will likely see commercial launches before the end of the year. As Huawei points out, the standards and technology are ready.

Its eight innovation practices cover key technology areas, including antenna evolutions, mmWave bandwidth, network intelligence in the RAN, and energy efficiency. There's a full list here, alongside details of Huawei's various 5.5G offerings, of course.

The kit maker also unveiled its 5.5G intelligent core network solution, which it notes will be a key element to the technology evolution; adding in intelligence should bring new capabilities that operators can sell to their customers, and thereby help with 5G monetisation, basically.

Under the header of service intelligence, Huawei brings us New Calling-Advanced. New Calling entered the telecoms vernacular last year and essentially combines voice calls with other elements – fun calling with avatars, for example, or calling with real-time translation or speech-to-text. It is backed by the GSMA but to date has been much more of a China thing than a global development. As you might expect, New Calling-Advanced takes it to the next level, adding control, personalisation, and enterprise options.

That type of service intelligence can improve the profitability of calling services, Huawei predicts. If that turns out to be the case, that can only be a good thing for operators, the majority of which are essentially giving away voice for free. Huawei insists New Calling is set to be commercialised in Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific in 2024, so we shouldn't have to wait too long to find out.

Huawei also addressed network intelligence and its role in network monetisation, and O&M intelligence bringing reduced workload through automated troubleshooting and so forth.

On which note, Huawei also used the Mobile World Congress platform to present its Telecom Foundation Model, the first in the industry, it claims, which will help realise those 5G intelligence objectives. An AI neural model, it is designed to help network engineers and on the customer service side too.

"The Huawei Telecom Foundation Model leverages Huawei's strengths in intelligent technology and offers two types of applications: role-based copilots and scenario-based agents. It will help carriers empower employees and improve user satisfaction, which will, in turn, improve network productivity," said Yang Chaobin, President of ICT Products & Solutions at Huawei.

All of this innovation underpins an intelligent economy, which Huawei predicts will be worth more than US$18.8 trillion by 2030, potentially unlocking new opportunities for the industry, Huawei's Corporate Senior Vice President and President of ICT Sales & Service Li Peng said in a Congress keynote this week.

But capturing those opportunities brings more intensive network requirements. And we're back to 5G-Advanced again.

It is of course the next step in mobile network technology. But no one is pushing it as hard as Huawei.

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MWC 2024

About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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