Throughput alone isn’t 5G’s only major upgrade over its predecessor 4G/LTE network. It also features a huge reduction in network latency (URLLC) and the ability to connect almost everything (mMTC). Orchestration of spectrum, hardware, and software underpins the 5G network builds. While operators are looking to roll out fast and efficient 5G networks, technology and equipment vendors are supporting them with the launch of several innovative products and solutions.
At a recent event in London, Huawei shared its plans on how it is geared up to support operators in its 5G network deployments. We had the chance to get an update on all of the new launches and are happy to share our insights on whether or not these new products and solutions will address several challenges faced by telecom operators with their 5G network rollout.
Key updates on Huawei’s 5G network platform:
Multi-layered network architecture: While deploying 5G network infrastructures, operators demand specific coverage and capacity requirements on the basis of its end-use or application area to provide their customers with a superior user experience. Huawei has a three-layer networking architecture: macro base station for basic capacity and coverage, easy marco installed at pole sites for coverage enhancement, and LampSite for indoor access. Due to the multi-layered approach, Huawei improved its 5G network reach while maintaining a consistent user experience across all scenarios.
Massive MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output): Massive MIMO is an important 5G-oriented technological upgrade. MIMO deploys multiple arrays of antennas at the transmitter and receiver locations. It effectively improves spectral efficiency and system capacity while reducing interference and cost per bit for operators. To support massive MIMO technology deployments in the mid/high-band, TDD, and FDD systems, equipment vendors are continuously improving their Active Antenna Unit (AAU) portfolio. Huawei’s third generation of 5G Massive MIMO AAU now supports up to 400 MHz bandwidth in all spectrum scenarios and is capable of up to 320W of transmission power. This upgraded AAU will meet growing ultra-wide bandwidth requirements of 5G. Given its light weight (25 Kgs), this upgraded AAU can be transported and installed easily, further facilitating faster construction of 5G networks.
Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS): DSS technology allows the deployment of both 4G/LTE and 5G NR in the same frequency band. It dynamically allocates band of spectrum between the two technologies as per the user demand. Huawei’s DSS solutions for FDD NR allocate spectrum resources for LTE and 5G service in milliseconds based on traffic requirements. Another solution from Huawei, Hybrid DSS, also enables dynamic sharing in 5G large-bandwidth, flexible-bandwidth, and triple-mode scenarios. The 5G large bandwidth supports large-bandwidth spectrum greater than 20 MHz for 5G and 20 MHz for 4G. While in flexible bandwidth, existing non-standard bandwidths of FDD spectrums, like 19.8 MHz, can be utilized. Triple-mode allows dynamic sharing of three network modes like 3G/4G/5G, 2G/4G/5G, or NB/4G/5G. These solutions will improve spectrum utilization efficiency and flexibility and enable fast NR deployment in the FDD band.
Huawei offers solutions to the following challenges faced by operators:
Discontinuous spectrum: Continuous large bandwidth of TDD spectrum is the optimal choice for 5G deployment. However, a large number of operators offer discrete allocations or discontinuous segments of spectrums. Addressing this issue, Huawei launched a number of ultra-broadband solutions, capable of supporting all discrete spectrums within 400 MHz in just one module. It helps operators in simplifying site deployment and further cutting rental and hardware costs.
Simplified deployment: The lack of antenna installation space is one of the major challenges faced by operators while deploying 5G infrastructures. Huawei addressed this challenge with the launch of its innovative Blade AAU. It integrates the active 5G AAU with passive 2G/3G/4G infra into one box and limits the total height to about 2 meters, supporting frequency bands sub-6GHz. With this product, operators can replace 3G and 4G antennas with a single antenna, saving space and simplifying installations at sites.
Low energy consumption: For the sustainable development of 5G networks, telecom operators are focusing on energy-efficient solutions. Huawei focuses on new site arrangement, innovative chip design and algorithms, use of high-quality hardware material, advanced heat dissipation technologies, etc., to reduce per-bit 5G power consumption. In an innovative approach, Huawei emphasized that it uses artificial intelligence-based, energy-saving techniques at the network level. It leverages AI to optimally shut down carrier, channel, and symbol across different modes of network and frequency bands, depending on the service requirements, saving energy while maintaining the required KPIs.
Summary and Outlook
To transition to 5G from 4G, operators are adopting non-standalone (NSA) or standalone (SA) modes of 5G New Radio (NR) access as per the specifications released by 3GPP. While NSA 5G relies on LTE for some functions like control, the standards for SA 5G don’t require LTE connectivity. The first wave of 5G commercial networks utilized C-band frequency spectrum. The 5G rollout is now expanding to FDD bands to ensure wider coverage and mmWave bands to increase capacity in the high-traffic zones. To meet these demands and accelerate 5G adoption, Huawei is working toward innovative solutions and facilitating 5G services rollout across all frequency bands.
5G will support several industry use cases like smart factory, telemedicine, smart port, and cloud VR/AR, among others. Huawei is offering end-to-end slicing capability across access, core, transport and terminals, meeting higher bandwidth and low-latency requirements for these use cases. Also, the focus is on improving 5G uplink throughputs and reducing latency for applications like 4K/8K live broadcast.
Offering an end-to-end 5G services capability is one of the underlying foundations of Huawei’s strategy. In this regard, Huawei continues to drive innovation and upgrades on the back of its strong R&D efforts. With the recent demonstration, Huawei revealed its focus areas: simplifying radio access network (RAN) deployments, supporting 5G rollout in ultra-high bandwidth, and driving greener energy-efficient solutions and AI-enabled end-to-end 5G services. These cutting-edge 5G solutions from Huawei will be instrumental in building fast and efficient 5G networks and further help operators move ahead of the competition.