Huawei Execs: ICT Industry Initiatives for 5G and Green 5G Networks for a Low-Carbon Future
Huawei’s rotating chairman Ken Hu kicked off the 12th annual Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Dubai with a call for the ICT industry to work together on the next stage of 5G development. He outlined the specific areas where the industry needs to improve. The MBBF is hosted by Huawei, together with its industry partners in the GSMA and the SAMENA Telecommunications Council. This forum gathers mobile network operators, vertical industry leaders, and ecosystem partners from around the world to discuss how to maximize the potential of 5G and push the mobile industry forward..
Speaking on the current state of 5G development and new opportunities moving forward, Hu noted, “In just five years of commercial deployment, 5G has provided a considerable upgrade in mobile experience for consumers, and it’s already starting to empower different industries around the globe. Progress was much faster than we expected, especially in terms of the subscriber base, network coverage, and the sheer number of 5G terminals on the market.”
On the device side, he said lowering barriers to headset adoption is critical to reaching a tipping point in virtual reality, one of the key technologies in the Extended Reality repertoire of AR, VR, and MR. “To reach [this tipping point], we have to make improvements to both headsets and content. For headsets, people want devices that are smaller, lighter, and more affordable.” To enrich the content ecosystem, Hu called on the industry to provide cloud platforms and tools that simplify content development, which is notoriously difficult and expensive.
Telecom operators need to enhance their networks and develop new capabilities to get ready for 5GtoB [THAT WILL REQUIRE A UNIFIED 5G SA CORE NETWORK). A strong end-to-end network is key to 5G applications for industrial use, so operators need to keep making improvements to network capabilities such as uplink, positioning, and sensing. As industrial scenarios are much more complex than consumer scenarios, O&M can be a real challenge. In response, Huawei is developing autonomous networks that bring intelligence to all aspects of 5G networks, from planning and construction to maintenance and optimization.
Digital transformation also requires different roles. In addition to providing connectivity, operators can also serve as cloud service providers, systems integrators, and more, and develop the requisite capabilities. To drive broader adoption of 5G in industries, developing industry-specific telecoms standards is also important. In China, operators, together with their industry partners, have begun working on standards for applying 5G in industries like coal mining, steel, and electric power, and this has helped to fuel greater adoption within these sectors.
“Beyond technology,” said Hu, “these are some of the intangible strengths that won’t provide immediate profit, but will be key to long-term competitiveness in the 5GtoB market.”
The ICT industry needs to get ready to go green. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, digital technology can help reduce global carbon emissions by at least 15%. “On one hand,” said Hu, “we have a great opportunity to help all industries cut emissions and improve power efficiency with digital technology. On the other hand, we have to recognize that our industry has a growing carbon footprint, and we have to take steps to improve that. Right now Huawei is using new materials and algorithms to lower the power consumption of our products, and we’re remodeling sites, and optimizing power management in our data centers for greater efficiency.”
“We have seen so many changes in the past two years – with the pandemic, technology, business and the economy. Moving forward, as the world begins to recover, we need to recognize the opportunities in front of us and get ready for them. Get our technology ready, get our businesses ready, and get our capabilities ready,” Hu concluded.
Also at the MBBF, Ryan Ding, Huawei’s Executive Director and President of the Carrier Business Group, gave a keynote speech entitled “Green 5G Networks for a Low-Carbon Future.” In his speech, Ding said that 5G has become a new engine for the growth of the mobile industry, and that to adapt to the rapid growth of data traffic, the whole industry will need to keep pursuing innovations in power supply, distribution, use, and management, and build greener 5G networks with higher performance and lower energy consumption.
According to Ding, in countries where 5G is developing faster, operators who have invested heavily in 5G have seen remarkable returns, but he stressed that operators will realize business value only when the 5G user penetration rate is high enough. When the 5G user penetration rate reaches a threshold of 20%, Ding said, rapid development of 5G will follow. In countries such as China, South Korea, and Kuwait, operators were quick to provide continuous nationwide coverage, giving users a consistent experience. They also offer flexible service packages, which delivers a win-win result for both users and themselves. In addition, these operators are providing a gigabit experience—a tangible improvement over 4G—to accelerate user migration and network evolution. In these countries, the 5G user penetration rate has exceeded the 20% threshold, triggering a positive cycle of user growth, business returns, and network construction.
High-quality 5G networks will drive the rapid growth of mobile data traffic. It is estimated that the average data traffic per user per month will reach 600 GB by 2030. If the energy efficiency of existing networks remains unchanged, the energy consumption of wireless networks will increase by more than tenfold. Ding said that to cut the ICT industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45%, operators will need to pursue ongoing innovations in power supply, distribution, use, and management to build greener 5G networks with higher performance and lower energy consumption.
Ding said Huawei has already deployed low-carbon site solutions in more than 100 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Greece, Pakistan, and Switzerland, helping operators reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 million tons. As a player in the communications industry, Huawei will continue to put green development at the center of everything it does and develop innovative solutions to build greener 5G networks with operators worldwide.
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Bob Cai, Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, delivered the opening speech “Green ICT for Green Development” at the Better World Summit (BWS):
“As a leading global provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, Huawei incorporates green development into everything we do. We see this as part of our social responsibilities. In addition, Huawei is ready to become the best partner for operators in their efforts toward carbon neutrality,” said Cai. “With our innovative products and solutions, we will help operators cut carbon emissions and make their networks more energy efficient. We also want to work with operators and use ICT to better enable other industries to cut carbon emissions and become carbon neutral faster.”
US President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law bipartisan legislation that will ban companies like Huawei and ZTE from getting approval for network equipment licences in the US.
The legislation, Secure Equipment Act of 2021, will require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt new rules that clarify it will no longer review or approve any authorisation applications for networking equipment that pose national security threats.
Last year, the FCC formally designated Huawei and ZTE as national security threats, with that decision being made as the agency found that both companies had close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and China’s military apparatus.
Since March, FCC commissioner Brendan Carr has made repeated calls for the legislation to be passed, saying at the time that the FCC has authorised 3,000 applications for Huawei networking equipment to be used.
“Once we have determined that Huawei or other gear poses an unacceptable national security risk, it makes no sense to allow that exact same equipment to be purchased and inserted into our communications networks as long as federal dollars are not involved. The presence of these insecure devices in our networks is the threat, not the source of funding used to purchase them,” Carr said at the time.
Besides Huawei and ZTE, other Chinese companies flagged as national security threats are Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company.
At the end of last month, the FCC also removed the authority for China Telecom to operate in the US, with the telco required to pack its bags and stop providing domestic and international services by the end of Christmas.
Citing a recommendation from the Trump-era Justice Department, the Commission said China Telecom America “failed to rebut” a series of concerns raised.
“China Telecom Americas, a US subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned enterprise, is subject to exploitation, influence, and control by the Chinese government and is highly likely to be forced to comply with Chinese government requests without sufficient legal procedures subject to independent judicial oversight,” the FCC said.
With the US clampdown especially focused on Huawei, alongside other countries following suit, the Chinese tech giant reported a steep decline in its first-half revenue, with its business to the end of June reporting 320 billion yuan in sales, compared to 454 billion yuan at this time last year.
In providing the financial results, rotating chair of Huawei Eric Xu said the aim of the company moving forward would be to survive sustainably.
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