Innovation must continue unabated for 5G, says MWC Shanghai keynote speakers

Innovation must continue unabated for 5G, says MWC Shanghai keynote speakers
ZTE President Xu Xiyang: Technology has won in the fight against the pandemic

While 5G is on the rise, technology challenges and business uncertainties remain. Industry leaders must not let up in their efforts if we want to create new possibilities for the future.

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Keynote speakers across different sessions at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai last week emphasised the need to stay the course in development of 5G services and to continue to innovate, and not be deterred by challenges that the industry poses.

In his keynote speech at the opening ceremony, ZTE President Xu Xiyang said 5G is still in its fledgling stage, while digital and intelligent transformation continues to gain momentum.

He said challenges brought by current business uncertainties include large-scale expansion, how to monetise the technology, as well as in creating viable business models for different industry applications. 

...that there is a fast-growing plant called Giant King Grass. Within the half year after it sprouts, its stem is only about one inch in height, but the roots grow over 10 metres deep underground and spread wide vigorously to absorb nutrients and accumulate energy

- Xu Xiyang, ZTE President

Drawing an analogy on how 5G must be nurtured and strengthened, Xu said: “Many people may know that there is a fast-growing plant called Giant King Grass. Within the half year after it sprouts, its stem is only about one inch in height, but the roots grow over 10 metres deep underground and spread wide vigorously to absorb nutrients and accumulate energy. Once it rains, the Giant King Grass can grow over two meters high in only several days.”

He feels that while COVID-19 has disrupted 5G deployment, China and many other countries have taken pre-emptive actions to keep 5G moving forward.  “In the fight against the pandemic, technology won.”

The evolution of 5G in three phases

Xu outlined three phases in which the industry is growing.

  • The evolution of cloud-network capabilities has helped the 5G market progress. During Phase 1, or the first one to three years when 5G networks are deployed, the focus was on higher efficiency. For example, we saw enhanced uplinks, edge deployments, and multi-cloud being synergised and developed to facilitate market expansion.
  • The focus of Phase 2 was intelligence and openness. As the 5G traffic load increased, ubiquitous AI, open and decoupled architecture, and edge cloud and industry applications further emerged to promote cloud-network integration. The introduction of uRLLC and millimetre wave technologies are some current examples.
  • Moving into the future of Phase 3, the popularisation of 5G industry applications will raise higher requirements for cloud-network integration and stimulate continuous evolution of technologies. For example, we will see the emergence of ultra large antennas, Terahertz speeds, multi-dimensional connectivity and AI-Native networks.

“2021 marks the year of the Ox, which symbolises resilience and perseverance in Chinese culture. It is exactly the spirit that ZTE has been carrying forward. We will remain down-to-earth and continue to keep our words and actions consistent,” said Xu.

Build a 5G engine for digitalisation

Dr Tong Wen, Huawei Fellow and CTO of Huawei Wireless, keynote speaker at the 5G Advanced Summit (GSMA) at MWC Shanghai, said in his opening that to satisfy the fast-growing consumer connections and diverse industrial applications, 5G must continuously evolve to “build an engine of all-industry digitalisation.”

There are infinite possibilities for 5G’s evolution in the next decade, says Dr Tong Wen, Huawei Fellow and CTO of Huawei Wireless

"The ever-increasing demand for wireless connections is the fundamental driving force to continuously advance mobile technologies." said Dr. Tong.

He said 5G must constantly evolve and improve. At this nascent stage, enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) services are already seeing an upsurge in data demand, requiring 5G networks to increase capacity to guarantee

As new applications keep emerging in the market, use cases originally defined in 5G need be expanded to meet diverse IoT service requirements. The boundary of 5G capabilities must be then be expanded to open up new spaces of business, explained Dr Tong.

Where 5G can improve?

Various consumer AR/XR services require high-definition images and videos to be sent from local devices to clouds for further rendering. He added that with the rise of lightweight XR devices, 5G XR will also become a reality. 5G networks will be required to increase its average speed from 120 Mbps to 2 Gbps as high definition improves from 4K to 16K.

To ensure real-time interaction in the virtual world, 5G must also further reduce transmission latency from the current 20 ms to 5 ms and 5G uplink capabilities must be improved by at least 10 times.

"Both technology and business are essential to stimulate and promote the development of an industry. The mobile industry, the world's largest wireless connection market, reaches trillions of US dollars every year," said Dr. Tong.

However, Dr Tong said there remain challenges faced due to the lack of collaboration between the connection technologies of industrial services, and as such, the applications are often limited to just a single or several applications, far from a scaled effect.

“The innovation of technologies and applications will open up infinite possibilities for 5G evolution in the next decade. The continuous evolution of 5G will improve network capabilities and expand service scenarios, adding extra support for achieving the integration while reducing the cost of connections.

“This will help unleash the potential business opportunities worth over US$100 billion in the IoT industry," he added.

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