5G to contribute billions to global GDP

Hauwei's Ryan Ding address the Mobile Broadband Forum 2019

Building networks for human and machine is not without its transformation challenges, forum hears

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16 October 2019 | 0

2019 is the starting year for 5G technology, with much more to come, according to Huawei.

Speaking at the Mobile Broadband Forum in Zurich, Ryan Ding, executive director of the board, president of carrier BG, Huawei, said the combination of the availability of devices, stabilisation of standards and spectrum allocation has meant that 56 carriers have deployed 5G networks, with 40 launching services. Spectrum has been allocated in 70 countries, with more planning to do so, or expand existing allocations.

Currently, 5G enabled smart phones are in the $500 plus range, but by Q1 2020, 5G modules are expected to be widely available, with $300 smart phones expected by the second half of the year.

The June 2018 saw release 15 (R15) of the 3GPP 5G standard frozen, but Ding said R16 will be completed in Q1 2020, adding further enhancements.

All of this, said Ding, has meant that 5G adoption is taking place at approximately twice the rate of 4G technologies.

Huawei itself has some 60 contracts for 5G and has shipped more than 400,000 5G active antenna units (AAU).

Transformative effect

Ding said that 5G will have a transformative effect not just in the business to consumer space, but also in business to business, and inspiring new business models.

Citing GSMA figures, Ding said it is expected there will be some 1.57 billion 5G users by 2025, with 480 million households getting broadband via fixed wireless access (FWA), with an overall contribution of $289 billion (€262 billion) to global GDP (STL Partners).

The performance benefits of 5G over previous generations are expected to produce at least a 4% increase in market share, with higher profitability. This will be driven by better user experience in bandwidth intensive services, such as ultra-HD streaming and online gaming. Carriers will be able to offer a lower price per gigabyte to users, as well as offering enhanced services to increase revenue per user. Ding described it as “win-win” for both.

In the home broadband market, bridging the digital divide and increasing broadband speeds is a must, said Ding, and also a business goal for the commercial deployment of 5G. In Europe, about 70 million households are currently either unconnected or underserved. Carriers can employ both fixed fibre and wireless fibre to quickly address the last mile issue in home broadband access. Ding said that Huawei has helped many carriers provide a fibre-like broadband experience using 5G FWA) to quickly meet the needs of households while bringing new growth opportunities for 5G.

In the B2B market, Ding said that many industries are embracing 5G and expecting it to deliver guaranteed service performance as stipulated in SLAs, enabling their digital transformation. As a business has a well-defined territory, service model, and business case for 5G applications, he said, carriers can provide 5G capabilities (such as uplink and downlink bandwidth, reliability, end-to-end latency) defined in SLAs in a modular manner, to serve the needs of different industries. This also opens up a vast range of opportunities for carriers, said Ding.

“It will be a long process for 5G to enable industry digital transformation,” said Ding. “Carriers should develop new network capabilities, operational capabilities, and business models right now to embrace the B2B transformation.”

Ding concluded by saying “the best way to predict the future is to create it” and called upon carriers, regulators, vertical industry players, equipment vendors, and systems integrators to work together to build a thriving 5G industry.

Human and machine

Matt Beal, director of technology strategy and architecture, Vodafone Group, echoed Ding’s comments for 2019 as the real start for 5G.

Vodafone how has 5G services live in 7 countries, including Ireland.

5G technologies have key early differentiators, said Beal, that set it apart from other wireless technologies, such as fixed and mobile capabilities, effective unlimited bandwidth and latency, and 5G roaming. It is enabling services such as gigabit internet access, AR/VR gaming services, connected everything, vehicle to everything connections and Industry 4.0.

Another important distinction, said Beal, was in how 5G networks are being built.

“5G is the first network we are designing for machines and people,” said Beal.

Hisham Allam, CTO, Zain, said there will be challenges in realising the full potential of 5G in the early stages.

There will be large capital expenditure requirements in the early stages, making clear targets for reducing operational expenditure. Complete network transformation will be critical for carriers, gearing up for network slicing. There is also risk around ecosystem readiness, balanced by the need for first mover advantage.

Allam said that the ever accelerating pace of business and technological evolution is moving beyond the limits of human/manual controls, driving the need for AI and automation.

However, Allam said that 5G ultimately will alter the mobile industry, providing a chance for operators to recharge growth.  

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