Huawei's Felix Qiu: 5G SA Geared Up for Fast Development

Light Reading spoke to Felix Qiu at Huawei to discuss some of the key development on 5G Standalone and its commercial success around the globe. #Sponsored

July 20, 2023

Light Reading spoke to Felix Qiu at Huawei to discuss some of the key development on 5G Standalone and its commercial success around the globe.

Q: Felix, already more than 240 operators have deployed commercial 5G worldwide, including 43 with standalone. In your view, I mean, now that they have the choice between standalone and non-standalone in building networks going forward, how do you think operators are going to choose?

A: Up to now, more than 240 operators around the world have put 5G networks into commercial use. Among them, 43 operators have deployed 5G SA networks, and 115 operators plan to invest in 5G SA networks. Different operators in different countries or regions adopted different paths for their 5G network construction. Some chose to deploy NSA networks and then gradually evolve to SA networks to meet users' requirements for large bandwidth services; some chose to deploy SA networks in one step. This is all based on their own conditions.

Huawei believes that the SA network is the target network architecture for 5G. For core network construction, we recommend operators to directly deploy SA networks to avoid repeated investment in 4G.

  1. SA standards are mature after constant evolution from Release 15 to Release 17. And SA brings great benefits.

  2. With the large bandwidth and low latency, SA networks deliver optimal experience and brings higher ARPU and DOU. According to statistics, the average traffic use of an SA user is more than twice that of a 4G user, and the ARPU is increased about 10% .

  3. SA also brings differentiated capabilities, such as low latency and high bandwidth for XR and VR services, low latency for fully connected factories, and service isolation with network slicing. In addition, the user plane and control plane are separated on the SA network, and the user planes are deployed flexibly and in a distributed way. This provides intelligent traffic steering capabilities, better providing services in the B2B scenarios.

  4. It also better enables B2B services. The strong capabilities, especially the low latency of 5G SA networks, will create great value for diverse scenarios such as industrial production, automation, and intelligent operations.

  5. SA also does well in energy saving. Statistics show that when the 5G traffic ratio increases by 10%, the power consumption of base stations will be reduced by more than 4%.

Q: Now, do you think the SA network is mature enough for large-scale deployment?

A: Yeah, I think so. There are a lot of excellent SA construction practices in and outside China. They all prove that SA networks are mature for wide deployment.

  1. 5G SA has mature network capabilities and has been put into large-scale commercial use in China, Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. It is now a consensus in the industry to deploy fully convergent networks that support 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G NSA, and 5G SA network elements.

  2. In terms of business practices, the three major operators in China have completed large-scale construction of 5G SA networks. Together they have over 1 billion 5G package users. These users mean higher DOU and revenue and brought an over 10% growth to these three operators in 2022. For operators outside China, I have an example here. Let's say, operator A. After 5G SA deployment, operator A got a steady increase in the market share, and its ARPU increased by over 15%.

  3. Terminals are being gradually matured. The shipment of 5G terminals has exceeded that of 4G terminals, and more than 80% of today's 5G terminals support 5G SA. And, Apple has released new iOS versions to support 5G SA networks of multiple operators worldwide.

  4. For operators, they can deliver diverse new services on SA networks, such as cloud phone and cloud gaming. And, they can launch differentiated packages based on these services, to attract more users. They can also identify high-potential 5G users based on user profiles and perform refined marketing operations.

Q: So tell us about some of the different use cases for B2C and B2B. In the B2C sector, an intelligent experience assurance solution is available for live streaming service scenarios. It helps operators release differentiated high-value packages. And more applications, such as cloud phones, cloud gaming, New Calling, are gradually put into commercial use.

In the B2B sector, China's three major operators have built more than 16,000 5G private networks. China Mobile itself has got a total revenue of over 7 billion US dollars with their 5G private networks. And, it has implemented over 10 thousand commercial projects for various service scenarios. The mobile VPN solution for campus office scenarios is a typical example. Within half a year, China Mobile has deployed this solution for over 30 school campuses and over 60 government departments and enterprises and gained more than 200 thousand users. This solution tends to be a killer application in the 5G B2B sector.

Q: So what are some of the biggest factors influencing operators outside China when deploying 5G Standalone? How to help them roll out those networks and accelerate SA adaption?

A: There are multiple favorable factors for global operators to develop their SA networks.

  1. One is that the 5G SA ecosystem has been gradually matured. The entire industry chain is ready for large-scale commercial use of SA networks.

  2. And the solution is also mature. The 5G SA solution has been put into commercial use for more than 500 million users around the world.

But we have also noticed that there are some breakpoints in the industry. For example, there are not so many terminals that support 5G SA. Some mobile phones need to be upgraded to support 5G SA. And users need to replace SIM cards.

While, good news is, these problems are gradually being resolved. For example, Apple has released new iOS versions to support 5G SA networks of multiple operators. And, SIM card replacement is not a new problem. We have been through this when we move from 3G to 4G. I think as the 5G SA becomes more and more popular and more new service packages are provided, this will be no longer a problem.

As for Huawei, we hope to work more with industry partners, to advance the development of the 5G SA industry chain and ecosystem, and help operators achieve business success in the 5G SA era.

This content is sponsored by Huawei.

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