5G in the spotlight

2018 will be remembered as a landmark in the rise of 5G technology, says Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East
 Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East
Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East


What are you looking forward to at SAMENA Leaders' Summit 2018?

Driven by our desire to create an open and collaborative environment between ICT stakeholders, we are committed to supporting the SAMENA Telecom Leaders’ Summit on an annual basis. This is our fifth consecutive year as a co-host of the event, and we are delighted at this occasion to meet with other ICT industry leaders and discuss key challenges and opportunities in our field. This year our focus is on 5G. As the commercial deployment of fifth generation networks grows nearer, it is vital for telcos and ICT organisations to collaborate and prepare for the new opportunities they will bring in order to reap the full benefits of 5G.

At Huawei, we believe that partnerships are a big driver of the 5G ecosystem. A lot of the traditional barriers have already fallen and that will continue to be the case, so operators will have to partner with each other to come up with very innovative ways to share infrastructure. A simple example is street furniture, lamps, cabinets, that can all be used by operators, made available by governments to provide better curbside services to their citizens. Connected street lights, for example, can incorporate surveillance, charging ports for electric vehicles, rentable ad space for businesses, and motion detection for on-demand lighting, which can cut energy use by up to 80 percent. The SAMENA Telecom Leaders’ Summit is a rare opportunity to meet with all the big players in the ICT industry and discuss face-to-face how together we can build out the 5G ecosystem.

On the sidelines of the summit we are holding three sub-forums on the topics of 5G, All-Cloud Transformation in the 5G era, and the Global Connectivity Index, which assesses the digital readiness of nations across the globe. We look forward to fruitful discussions with key regional leaders and enjoyed this opportunity to hear ideas from others about how to meet the challenges facing our industry head on.

5G is the technology in the spotlight for 2018 and beyond. What implications does that have for the ICT industry?

2018 will be remembered as a landmark in the rise of 5G technology. In recent months we witnessed the launching of a range of innovative 5G products and solutions and the founding of a global 5G Slicing Association. This follows on the heels of the December announcement of the first implementable 5G NR specification, Non-Standalone 5G New Radio, at the TSG RAN Plenary Meeting. Taken together, these developments point clearly in one direction: 5G is now.

Industries that require higher bandwidth and lower latency will be more reliant on 5G, and the larger the market space is, the more commercial value a service can deliver. Back in 2009, Huawei invested more than $600 million on 5G technical research and innovation. 2017 saw Huawei putting RMB 4 billion in the research and development (R&D) of 5G products. Backed by years of strong investment, Huawei is able to push ahead with all-around preparations, getting 5G-ready in technology, products, and ecosystem.

Why was the announcement of 5G NR specification important to the ICT industry?

The recent announcement of the 5G NR specification caused a great sensation in the ICT industry for a simple reason: having an official standard for 5G is a leap forward in allowing the widespread commercial deployment of 5G technology since it enables vendors to use these specifications to build 5G equipment. The notice was well-timed given the challenge telecom operators have been recently facing to increase their revenue and the pressure they are under to progress on their digital O&M transformation. The arrival of 5G will enable them to formulate a comprehensive new strategy to drive progress based on the revolutionary potential of the network.

What challenges do you think lie ahead before 5G become widely available, and what new challenges will 5G create for telco operators?

The 5G era is fast approaching, but we still have work to do. For operators, further preparation is necessary to build up network spectrum, transport, sites and business case, etc. Yet we believe our efforts over the past years have put us in a good position today, and Huawei is ready with an end-to-end portfolio of product solutions and end-to-end layout in cross-industry. Though is still some work to be done, we are in a good position to support our telecom customers as we work together to launch 5G networks.

Of course the 5G era will bring in new challenges: in particular, the fact that services will no longer be only be B2C; there will be many new services and vertical industries, which will bring new challenges to telecom vendors unused to operating in these areas. Here Huawei has an advantage thanks to our broad portfolio and capabilities – we are a leader not only in telecom equipment and service business, but also in consumer business, enterprise business, and cloud business. We have deep expertise of both B2B and B2C businesses and look forward to helping operators navigate the new challenges of the next step in digital transformation.

What impact will 5G have on the Middle East?

5G technology is necessary for Middle East to progress in digital transformation. Already the development of 4.5G is making an impact in key regional initiatives: 4.5G Narrow Band-M2M is enabling the development of smart cities. The technology can provide smart intelligence within the city to optimise the daily use of energy (for example through remote control of public transport systems), guarantee better public safety (through video surveillance in streets) or leverage an efficient smart metering system.

At Huawei, we firmly believe that 5G has the potential to transform the landscape of the Middle East, drive forward digitalisation, increase revenue for telecom operators, enhance capabilities for organisations, and improve the lives of the population. And as we have been seeing in recent months, the gains of 5G are not far – we are closer than ever to turning this vision into reality.

Why is the rise of 5G causing such a sensation in the global ICT industry?

While the switch from 3G to 4G was mostly a matter of increased speed, the rise of 5G will unlock the potential of a flood of new technologies. To give a better idea of the impact of 5G, in November Huawei Wireless X Labs released a white paper on the Top Ten 5G Use Cases. The paper showed that 5G will be the foundation on which a range of groundbreaking technologies will be built, from cloud VR/AR to connected automotive to smart manufacturing to connected drones, personal AI assistant, and Smart Cities, and more. This is why organisations – and consumers – are so excited to see 5G coming.

What is Huawei doing to facilitate the rise of 5G?

At Huawei we are focused on the three key issues of better connections, better business growth, and better experience to drive forward digital transformation and unlock revenue for solutions providers and telcos. By building better connections, we mean organisations must build more connections and expand data pipes in order to drive forward industry-wide digitisation and help carriers fully leverage the power of 5G and cloud-network synergy. We want to enable better business growth by helping carriers dig deeper into their installed base to maximise network value. We also aim to help carriers develop video and IoT services to enable new business growth. Finally, we hope to provide consumers with a better experience through our digital operation & maintenance solutions which enable agile business and intelligent and efficient operations. This helps carriers deliver a Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY, and Social (ROADS) experience.

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