3 Major Trends Shaping the Future with 5G
What You Need to Know
- Extended Reality is on the horizon, but four things need to happen first.
- Carriers should take advantage of 5GtoB to expand their business portfolios and contribute to scenario-specific standards so solutions can be replicated.
- Energy consumption with growing data consumption will increase, the need for innovative low-carbon solutions in the ICT industry.
In my last post, I looked at where we’re currently at with 5G from the perspectives of carriers, consumers, industries, enterprises, and technology. In this post, I focus on key trends and recommendations for how we get there.
Reality, But Not as You Know It
One exciting new 5G scenario that will take service requirements and data usage to a whole new level is Extended Reality (XR). Blending AR and VR, and Mixed Reality, we can expect to see massive growth of this “metaverse” in both consumer and business scenarios. While the shared, virtual universes of The Matrix and Ready Player One may be some way off, we’ve started on the journey – but four things need to happen:
To be smooth and immersive, cloud-based XR needs sub-10-millisecond latency coupled with at least 4-Gpbs downlink. Last year we released our vision for 5.5G, one feature of which is RTBC. With the goal of delivering a tenfold increase in bandwidth at a specified millisecond latency, RTBC will enable a more immersive experience in applications like XR and holographic communications.
At present, VR headsets lack mass appeal because many people find them big, expensive, and uncomfortable. Moving forward, cloud can handle heaviest computing tasks, which will allow for smaller and lighter headsets. To reach commercial scale with sufficient investment and content, VR requires at least 10 million monthly active users. In the first quarter of 2020, Oculus Quest 2 sold close to 5 million units, which is set to hit 10 million this year.
To flourish, XR requires more and better content, which in turn needs two things need to happen:
Developer platforms. XR content is difficult to develop, but cloud platforms can provide developers and designers with pre-made assets, effects, and interaction models to greatly simplify and accelerate content creation.
Content alliances. LG U+, for example, provides almost 5,000 pieces of content in areas like education, gaming, and AR navigation. To expand its content portfolio and create quality XR content, LG U+ joined forces with more than 10 carriers, chipset makers, and content developers from around the globe to form the Global XR Content Telco Alliance. As localized content is a must, we hope to see more alliances like this at the regional level.
A Better Bottom Line for 5GtoB
For 5G to meet business needs, network uplink, latency stability, sensing capabilities, and O&M must all improve. For example, AI-powered quality inspections are evolving from 2D to 3D, which will require 2 to 5 Gbps uplink – speeds that current networks aren’t ready for.
Equally, stronger O&M capabilities are vital for industry-specific 5G scenarios, like overcoming signal interference from factory equipment, or enabling machine vision and remote control, which requires many base stations over a small area. As these types of scenarios make network planning and operations extremely difficult, we’re developing smart and autonomous network solutions that can boost all aspects of 5G network planning, construction, maintenance, and optimization.
For long-term success in enterprise 5G, carriers also need to consider other factors that might not be immediately profitable, for example:
Expanding business portfolios. Beyond connectivity, carriers can provide in-demand services such as cloud services and E2E system integration. Some carriers in Germany and China have already formed specialist subsidiaries for integrating ICT and industrial systems.
Thinking collaboratively. As 5G is deeply integrated with core production systems, building industry knowledge and developing shared standards as part of an industry ecosystem will be key for reproducing solutions at scale.
In China, carriers are working collaboratively to set 5G standards for mining, steel, and electric power so that successful solutions can be quickly replicated. Carriers can also set up joint labs with device manufacturers, app developers, and vertical customers to accelerate the testing and verification of integrated solutions.
Let’s Make It Green
Currently, the ICT industry accounts for about 2% of global emissions. To meet the terms of the Paris Agreement, the ITU has called for a 45% reduction in emissions from the ICT sector over the next decade. As sites and data centers are the most power-hungry assets in our industry, we’re prioritizing three areas:
First, on the product side, we’re developing new materials, algorithms, and thermal solutions to improve the power efficiency of our equipment. For example, we’ve just released a 5G AAU that reduces power consumption by more than 30% without reducing coverage.
Second, we’re remodeling sites to reduce power consumption and boost power efficiency. Where possible, we’re switching sites to poles and cabinets. By removing equipment from closed environments, we can take advantage of natural environments for cooling, which can boost site power efficiency from 60% to 97%. And with solar power, we can cut emissions by 10 tons per site per year.
Third, AI can optimize heat and power management in data centers, cutting PUE by 12%.
When it comes to cutting emissions, there’s much room for improvement in our industry and this will be a major focus of Huawei’s innovation strategy moving forward.
After five years of development, I still have high hopes for 5G. We’ve made incredible progress, but there’s more to do. Our industry is heading in several clear directions, so let’s act now and move forward together.
Disclaimer: Any views and/or opinions expressed in this post by individual authors or contributors are their personal views and/or opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of Huawei Technologies.