UBBF 2022: Striding to Ultra-Broadband 5.5G


    Nov 21, 2022

    Themed “Stride to Ultra-Broadband 5.5G”, UN Broadband Commission and Huawei hosted Ultra-Broadband Forum 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand, on October 27-28. On day 1 of the event, David Wang, Executive of the Board and Chairman of the ICT Management Board, gave an opening keynote speech covering the journey to Ultra-Broadband 5.5G.

    David Wang delivering the keynote

    We are moving from the 5G to the 5.5G era. Likewise, smart home services and industrial digitalization are creating new opportunities for the fiber-centric ultra-broadband industry.

    So, what steps we need to take to reach the new milestone of ultra-broadband 5.5G?

    But first, let’s take a quick look back at how we got to where we are today. There have been three major milestones in the history of fixed broadband networks: First was the transition from cable to FTTH which made 100 Mbit/s bandwidth possible on GPONs. Second was the upgrade from GPON to 10 GPON, which enabled gigabit access for homes. Third was the development of the FTTR technology that extends a Gbit/s experience to every corner of our homes.

    Over the past 10 years, the world has had 790 million new FTTH users. Over the past five years, 100 million users have started enjoying gigabit services. Over the past year, an additional of 1 million users has begun using FTTR services.

    For enterprise services, the number of high-quality OTN private lines has already reached 50,000, the number of site-to-cloud private lines has topped 600,000, and there are a total of 27 million Wi-Fi 6 hotspots available worldwide.

    In addition, there are now over 130 400G WDM networks around the world, more than 15,000 all-optical, cross-connect ROADMs, and over 100 SRv6-supported IP networks.

    Full deployment of F5G and promotion of IPv6 Enhanced standardization

    Mature standards have been an indispensable part of this success. The common vision for the F5G industry is fiber to everywhere. By September 2022, ETSI had launched three releases for F5G, including eight standards and two white papers. These releases have clearly defined key technologies, network architectures, and use cases for F5G. F5G is now ready for full global deployment.

    Almost all Phase 1.0 standards for IPv6 Enhanced such as SRv6 have been released. For Phase 2.0, the standard for VPN+ is in the individual drafting process, while some key technologies like G-SRv6 and BIERv6 are already in the Working Group drafting process. All standards of IPv6 Enhanced are proceeding steadily.

    Home broadband for a better digital life: From 1 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s everywhere

    So, what is our end goal for all of this work? It is to help us stride faster into the intelligent world of 2030. Looking towards 2030, homes, campuses, industrial internet, and everything around us will be intelligent and look very different from the world today, with greater connectivity requirements. To achieve the intelligent world of 2030, ultra-broadband networks will also need to have higher capabilities.

    In our homes, home broadband will make the leap from 1 Gbit/s to 10 Gbit/s. Over the past 10 years, home bandwidth has increased from 10 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s with a few places achieving a 1-Gbit/s peak. By 2030, we expect FTTH penetration rates to reach 91%, with gigabit and 10-gigabit networks accounting for 55% and 23% of all home broadband networks respectively.

    Currently, homes also only have an average of 5 to 20 devices connected to their Wi-Fi networks. The popularization of smart home devices will drive this number to spike to 150 to 200. Fiber will therefore need to reach every room of every home, so stronger Wi-Fi can reach every corner of every room.

    We estimate that by 2030, more than 20% of home broadband users will benefit from FTTR.

    Campus Wi-Fi: Better experience for faster intelligent transformation

    On large campuses, 75% of people already use video conferencing at work, but future work models will rely more on immersive interaction and collaboration tools. This will require Wi-Fi networks capable of delivering several 10-Gbit/s experiences.

    At the same time, intelligent applications, like 24/7 services, intelligent access controls, and robotics, will all run on the same campus networks. These networks will need to support intelligent operations and management.

    However, things are different for SMEs. Mom-and-pop restaurants and small coffee shops, for example, will need lightweight network solutions and one-stop network services. This is an opportunity for operators to extend private line service to carrier-grade fiber-connect Wi-Fi intranet for SMEs, which can also be maintained remotely.

    Powering industrial Internet with deterministic and flexible connectivity

    Industry will also see massive change by 2030.

    The industrial Internet is an emerging market and by 2030, we expect most industrial campus equipment will be connected, with 90% via wireless networks. Six-nines reliability will also be needed in more scenarios to ensure service continuity.

    Automated industrial control, for example, will largely depend on high-definition machine vision and AI-assisted computing. This means individual production lines will require 10-Gbit/s bandwidth and lower than 1 millisecond latency.

    Enterprises are also moving production to the cloud, a move that will need the support of multi-cloud strategies. Future enterprises will, on average, need to connect to more than five clouds. The cloud-based services they will also rely on will require networks to dynamically adjust routing. For example, they will expect to process latency-critical computing in the nearest data center and to transfer high-carbon-emission computing to low carbon data centers.

    The higher requirements industrial Internet will have on connectivity bandwidth, latency, reliability, and dynamic connectivity to multiple clouds will require operators and industrial campuses to extend their collaboration from private lines to campus networks and on to cloud data centers.

    Key factors for network development: Capacity, green, and automation

    By 2030, we believe we will also see three emerging trends in networking.

    First, the proportion of FMC operators will increase from 48% to 70%. The bandwidth requirement of 5.5G and F5.5G converged access sites will exceed 100 Gbit/s. This will help IP plus optical networks extend to all access sites and commercial buildings. 400G/800G WDM will be used on the backbone and metro networks, achieving a single-fiber capacity of 100 Tbit/s. All routers and data center switches will provide 800GE interfaces.

    Second, green technologies, like FTTH, all-optical switching, multi-service routers, and intelligent power management, will make entire networks 10 times more energy efficient. Optical access network will reduce 80% of energy consumption to 6 Watt per terabit, optical transport networks consume 90% less energy at 32 Watt per terabit, and IP routers will use 70% less energy.

    Finally, networks will achieve L4 automation, with human-assisted, intelligent O&M becoming a reality. A tenfold increase in capacity and experience improvement for such networks will not result in higher O&M costs.

    Ultra-broadband 5.5G will be a key milestone on our path to this intelligent world. To hit this milestone, all industry players, including standards organizations, regulators, operators, and equipment vendors, will need to work together and take the four following steps.

    Defining and releasing next-gen standards

    First, we need to define and release next-gen standards as soon as possible.

    2022 is a critical year for the ultra-broadband industry. Standards organizations, particularly the ITU and ETSI, have already agreed on the development paths of key F5.5G technologies. The ETSI White Paper: Fixed 5th Generation Advanced and Beyond, for example, came out in late September. ETSI began leading the standardization for F5G Advanced with Release 3, focusing on home area network architectures, green network standards, autonomous driving optical networks, and use cases for industrial optical networks. In Releases 4 and 5, smart home use cases and optical fiber sensing will be addressed.

    For the IP industry, Omdia will also publish a Net5.5G white paper during the ultra-broadband forum. IETF, IEEE, and other standards organizations are working together to accelerate this standardization work. We believe that Net5.5G will achieve even larger bandwidth and realize flexible end-to-end SRv6 optimization by 2023. And by 2024 or 2025, IP networks will be able to sense computing power and applications, delivering more deterministic network experiences and service guarantees for more industrial scenarios.

    Key optical access and transport technologies for UBB 5.5G

    Second, we urgently need to make new breakthroughs on the technology front.

    For optical access, we will need 50G PON to be compatible with operator’s existing ODN and PON networks. Tapered amplifiers and superlattice receivers are promising ways to drive 50G PON coverage to a range of 40 kilometers, on par with the current 10G PON technology. In addition, a combination of GPON, 10G PON, and 50G PONwill support smooth upgrade forcurrent PON networks.

    C-WAN architecture can also be introduced on FTTR networks. With this new architecture, we can use main gateways to centrally manage, optimize, and coordinate Wi-Fi signals across entire networks. This will support stable Gbit/s in homes and cut roaming handover times to less than 20 milliseconds.

    In optical transport, we can increase the spectrum available for 400G backbone WDM networks from 8 Terahertz to 12 Terahertz using Super C plus Super L amplifiers doped with new elements. This will increase the number of available wavelengths by 25% and single-fiber transmission capacity to 100T.

    For metro WDM, we must pay close attention to wavelength utilization and flexibility. Wavelength pooling WDM technology, which is built on technologies like M times N WSS and silicon–photonics-based T-ROADM, will allow for the flexible sharing of metro wavelengths across multiple ring networks, greatly reducing TCO, and supporting WDM deployment to access sites.

    Key IP technologies for UBB 5.5G

    We will also need to make new breakthroughs in IP technologies to support industrial campus networks and multi-cloud enterprise connectivity.

    In campus network scenarios, Wi-Fi 7 will use technologies such as CO-SR and CO-OFDMA to improve the collaboration between different APs. Technologies like UL OFDMA and UL MU-MIMO will therefore be needed to improve Wi-Fi connection reliability.

    Enterprises will also need IP networks that can sense services and dynamically adjust routes if they want to execute their multi-cloud strategies. APN6 and SRv6 can help here by sensing application requirements, managing access policies, and dynamically configuring cloud resources.

    Industrial production lines will also need deterministic experiences. DIP technologies can be used to create a periodic scheduling mechanism that controls the forwarding time of each packet on each hop. This will reduce the end-to-end jitter on IP networks to less than 20 microseconds and ensure high-quality connections for production line control.

    Faster UBB 5.5G rollout: Driven by policies and vision for target networks

    Third, we will need to accelerate the formulation of new policies to support deployment. New standards and technologies can only create value when they are applied to live networks.

    To make this happen, governments and regulators will need to implement more effective policies, including national broadband strategies, fiber deployment policies, and construction standards. Clear fiber deployment policies for FTTH will speed up national broadband rollout and construction standards will help bring fiber to every room at home.

    Operators also have a role to play too. They need to define target network architectures for 2025 and 2030, and outline the steps we must take to get there. They also need to accelerate the rollout of FTTH and FTTR networks, the deployment of metro WDM to access sites, the upgrade from IP networks to SRv6 networks, and the deployment of 400G and 800G for both transmission and IP networks. These will bring us closer to ultra-broadband 5.5G.

    Exploring new applications and building a prosperous ecosystem

    Finally, industry players and ecosystem partners need to work together to explore what’s next. We need to make the most of 5.5G to achieve ultra-broadband services and support new high-potential applications.

    Together, we can speed up the adoption of applications like MetaVerse games and real-time interaction on 10 Gbit/s home networks. Users who enjoy these services will be willing to pay for them.

    Collaboration will also be key in exploring new campus scenarios such as immersive offices and robot-assisted offices. It will also benefit micro and small enterprises as next-gen services like one-stop Wi-Fi networks will help them boost efficiency and reduce costs.

    We believe the telecom industry will continue its work on deterministic experience and flexible routing for industrial Internet. This can be achieved by working with industrial Internet companies to incubate applications stemming from automated industrial control and enterprise connectivity to multiple clouds.

    Collaborating to develop UBB 5.5G

    Let’s leverage ultra-broadband 5.5G technologies, build 5.5G networks, and develop a 5.5G ecosystem. Together, we will move our industry forward and stride to ultra-broadband 5.5G.

    Further Reading


    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.


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