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How to Build and Maintain a “Good Pipe”? – Gigaverse Experience is the Foundation

by Guang Yang | Jun 15, 2022

Before MWC this year, my colleague, Phil Kendall, pointed out in his report Will MWC 2022 Help Operators Make 5G Relevant? that “operators still need to focus on the basics” to “meet the expectations and needs of consumers and enterprises.” Actually, building and maintaining a high-quality network in terms of coverage, capacity, and cost-efficiency have become a consensus in the global mobile industry. As stated by Millicom CEO Mauricio Ramos at MWC 2022, “the way not to be just a dumb pipe is to start by being a really, really good pipe.” The network coverage, capacity, and cost-efficiency are the foundation of a “good pipe.” In addition, a “good pipe” should be intelligent, secure, and green as well. This blog will focus on the coverage, capacity, and cost perspectives. Other aspects will be discussed in my following blogs.

To build and maintain a “good pipe,” telecom operators may have to take new network deployment approaches to meet the growing demands. For example, the China Unicom Beijing branch deployed 36 5G macro base stations and some 5G small cells in the Universal Beijing Resort to establish a “universal Gbps” campus coverage for the crowded tourists. To meet the increasing demands of vloggers, China Unicom also deployed the enhanced uplink features to improve the uplink capacity and provided a specific tariff plan for vloggers on the campus. More details about the network in the Universal Resort can be found in my previous blog. On the other side of the Pacific, AT&T and Verizon hit record data usage volumes during Super Bowl 2022. Verizon added 169 small cells, four macro cell sites, and 24 in-building systems to support the growing data demand. AT&T also deployed mmWave 5G cells for the event. These cases represent a new deployment approach for wireless networks that effectively integrates multi-layer and multi-band radio resources and flexibly activates specific features according to the market demand.

In the broadband market, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven up the demand for remote work and education. With the number of connected devices increasing, the home Wi-Fi network becomes a bottleneck for the broadband experience. The need for Fiber to the Room (FTTR) is emerging, which can provide a differentiated residential broadband experience. FTTR solutions have been adopted by telecom operators in China, APAC, the Middle East, etc. For example, stc has successfully deployed the FTTR solution in Riyadh to "provide high-bandwidth and reliable connectivity across the customer home." The solution not only can improve the experience of the residential broadband customers but also can serve SME customers.

To build and maintain a “good pipe,” the network technologies also need to be evolved continuously. 3GPP has kicked off the work of Rel-18, which is recognized as the first release of 5G-Advanced. The evolved 5G system will provide intelligent network solutions and cover new use cases. By 2030, the peak downlink rate will reach more than 10Gbps. The uplink will reach 1Gbps, and the network latency will be shortened to 5ms. There will be more diversified mobile IoT access capabilities.

Fixed broadband networks are also evolving. The Fifth-Generation Fixed Network (F5G) has been standardized by the ETSI F5G Group. Now, the standard group, ETSI's ISG F5G, is discussing the evolution of F5G to the next level, 'F5G Advanced.' By 2030, 10Gbps everywhere will be achieved in the home environment. The home network should be fully upgraded to Wi-Fi 7 to implement intelligent QOS management of home access. Meanwhile, the passive optical network (PON) will be upgraded to 50G PON (see my colleague Dan Grossman’s blog about the 50G PON). The metropolitan area network will be upgraded to 800G, and the backbone network will be upgraded to more than 400G.

The new deployment approaches and technology evolutions can help telecom operators to continuously improve the user experience and eventually achieve a universal Gigabit per second data experience, i.e., the Gigaverse experience. The first step is to extend the Gbps experience from a peak experience to an average experience for all users in a service area. The second step is to further enhance the user experience through introducing advanced technologies – such as 10G-PON, 5G-Advanced, and even 6G – to meet the requirements of Metaverse or any other emerging bandwidth-hungry application. The joint whitepaper of Huawei and Strategy Analytics – GUIDE to the Future – discussed the market demands and summarized the evolution roadmap of the Gigaverse initiative. 

Gigaverse blog

The extensive scale and the evolving technologies make networks and services increasingly complex. Thus, network automation is becoming a must-have to support the extension of networks and services. Network automation features can improve operational efficiency and optimize network configurations according to the change of traffic patterns and experience requirements. The automation platform can also provide unique value to meet business needs, such as flexibly allocating resources according to the traffic dynamics, guaranteeing the end-to-end SLA requirement, etc.

The extensive network will not only serve consumers but also support the industrial digital transformation. Cloud service, particularly the edge cloud, is becoming an essential element of industrial digital transformation. Telecom operators can leverage their local or regional resources – connectivity, device portfolio, consulting and system integration, customer service, etc. – to help enterprise customers integrate all necessary resources to form a single, easy-to-use service platform.

In summary, networks are the foundation of innovative services and excellent user experience. Telecom operators need to leverage new deployment approaches and technologies to build and maintain the “good pipe.” Automatic network operation and effective resource integration will also play a critical role in building and maintaining the “good pipe.” For more detailed discussions, please access the joint whitepaper of Huawei and Strategy Analytics: GUIDE to the Future.

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