Huawei pushes 5.5G (aka 5G Advanced) but there are no completed 3GPP specs or ITU-R standards!

During MWC 2024, Huawei held a new product solution launch event, where George Gao, President of Huawei Cloud Core Network Product Line, released the 5.5G (aka 5G Advanced) intelligent core network solution.

Huawei claims 2024 is the first year for commercialization of 5.5G (this author strongly disagrees- 3GPP 5G Advanced specs are not nearly complete and ITU-R standards work hasn’t even started yet).

“The first year of commercial use of 5.5G has officially arrived, and the commercial rollout of 5.5G is accelerating worldwide,” the China based vendor said.  “While Middle Eastern operators have achieved scaled 5.5G commercialization, operators across Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America are verifying 10 Gbps [1.], preparing for 5.5G commercialization in 2024,” Huawei added.

Note 1. CCS Insight wrote last month, “operators are deploying greenfield networks in new cities, such as STC in Bahrain and Zain in Saudi Arabia, both of which have achieved 10 Gbps downlink speeds on their 5G-Advanced test networks.”

The company says announced their 5.5G intelligent core network as an important part of 5.5G, incorporating service intelligence, network intelligence, and O&M intelligence.

The claim is that 5.5G technology will improve both business value and development potential.  We seriously doubt that!

Service Intelligence Expands the Profitability of Calling Services:

In 2023, New Calling [2.] was put into commercial use for serving up to 50 million subscribers across 31 provinces in China. It has also been verified in EuropeLatin America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific, and is set to be commercialized in these regions in 2024.

Note 2. New Calling essentially combines voice calls with other elements – fun calling with avatars, for example, or calling with real-time translation or speech-to-text. It is backed by the GSMA (which is NOT a standards body), but to date has been deployed only in China.

As stated by George, the industry’s first New Calling-Advanced solution launched by Huawei embraces enhanced intelligence and data channel-based interaction capabilities.  Huawei says that will take us to a multi-modal communication era and helping operators reconstruct their service layout. In addition, Huawei also introduced the Multi-modal Communication Function (MCF) to allow users to control digital avatars through voice during calls, delivering a more personalized calling experience. An enterprise can also customize their own avatar as an enterprise ambassador to promote their branding.

Network Intelligence Enables Experience Monetization and Differentiated Operations:

For a long period of time, operators have strived to realize traffic monetization on MBB networks. However, there are three technical gaps: not assessable user experience, no dynamic optimization, and no-closed-loop operations. To bridge these gaps, Huawei has launched the industry’s first Intelligent Personalized Experience (IPE) solution, aiming to help operators add experience privileges to service packages and better monetize differentiated experiences.

In the industry, the user plane on the core network usually processes and forwards one service flow using one vCPU. As heavy-traffic services increase, such as 2K or 4K HD video and live streaming, microbursts and elephant flows frequently occur. It is, therefore, more likely that a vCPU will become overloaded, causing packet loss. To address this issue, Huawei releases the Intelligent UDG. According to George, this is the industry’s first Intelligent UDG product that can deliver ubiquitous 10 Gbps superior experiences.

O&M Intelligence Achieves High Network Stability and Efficiency:

Empowered by the multi-modal large model, the Digital Assistant & Digital Expert (DAE) reduces O&M workload and improves O&M efficiency. It reshapes cloud-based O&M from “experts+tools” to intelligence-centric “DAE+manual assistance”. With DAE, 80% of trouble tickets can be automatically processed, which is much more efficient than 100% manual processing as it used to be. DAE also enables intent-driven O&M, avoiding manual decision-making. Before, it usually took over five years to cultivate experts in a single domain, however, the multi-modal large model is now able to be trained and updated within just weeks.

Huawei published eight innovation practices which cover key 5.5G technology areas, including antenna evolutions, mmWave bandwidth, network intelligence in the RAN, and energy efficiency. The full list is here, along with details of Huawei’s proposed 5.5G offerings.

With the 2024 commercial launch of 5.5G, Huawei is collaborating with wireless network operators and partners around the world to pursue exciting new innovation in networks, cloud, and intelligence. Huawei plans to drive its 5G business and foster a thriving industry ecosystem, creating a new era for intelligent digital transformation.

For more information, please visit:

Closing Comments:  

This author feels it’s extremely dangerous to announce any IMT products in advance of 3GPP specifications and ITU-R standards. It unrealistically raises expectations and of course there’s no interoperability without specs/standards.


What is 5G Advanced and is it ready for deployment any time soon?

Nokia plans to investment €360 million in microelectronics & 5G Advanced/6G technology in Germany

Nokia exec talks up “5G Advanced” (3GPP release 18) before 5G standards/specs have been completed


4 thoughts on “Huawei pushes 5.5G (aka 5G Advanced) but there are no completed 3GPP specs or ITU-R standards!

  1. ZTE hosted “5G-Advanced Innovation and New Product Release Conference” at MWC Barcelona 2024, which systematically demonstrated ZTE’s panoramic planning and futuristic innovations for the 5G-A era, and released 10 new stunning 5G-A products, fully preparing for 5G-A commercial use, the company said.

    China’s three major telecom operators and industry partners also participated the conference.

    Zhang Wanchun, senior vice president at ZTE, pointed out in his opening keynote speech that, the unveiling of 5G-Advanced technologies is an exciting milestone for the possibility and potential of the future communication technology development.

    5G-Advanced represents more than an evolution stage from 5G to 6G in speed and connectivity; it signals a paradigm shift in the way people live, work and play. He called on the industry to join hands and work together for a smarter and more connected intelligent world.

    During the product release event, ZTE unveiled 10 stunning innovative products incorporating three categories, the simplest and high efficient UBR and FDD M-MIMO products, the mmWave products and NTN ground base station to extend 5G-A scenarios, and the a series of products with integrated communication and computing for rich B2C, B2B applications.

    At the conference, representatives of China’s three major operators also respectively shared their practical experience and unique insights into 5G-A.

    Cao Lei, Deputy director of Wireless and Terminal Technology, China Mobile Research Institute, delivered a comprehensive speech entitled “5G-A Promotes the Prosperity of Low-Altitude Economy,” which systematically outlined the growth trends of the low-altitude economy, the business scenarios it encompassed and the key role of 5G-A in strengthening this sector.

    Cao Lei said that the low-altitude economy has become a new track for global economic development, covering express logistics, emergency rescue, environmental monitoring, agriculture, forestry and plant protection, consumer entertainment and many other fields.

    When 5G-A meets new tracks, it stimulates unlimited opportunities.

    China Mobile actively cooperates with the industry to conduct research on low-altitude intelligent network technology based on 5G-A, takes the lead in formulating technical standards such as UAV terminal capability identification, proposes a low-altitude networking technology system for all scenarios, and innovatively puts forward key technologies such as terminal-based interference control in response to the prominent problems of high interference and frequent handovers in the low-altitude scenario.

    Fan Bin, director of the Wireless Network of China Unicom, pointed out that China Unicom has built up the world’s largest co-constructed and shared 5G network, and made significant achievements in 5G industrial applications.

    With the upgrading of the network capabilities, 5G applications in vertical industries are moving deeper from non-critical production to critical production.

    5G-A with high deterministic capability is one of the best choices to meet the requirements of mobility, easy to wear and tear, massive connectivity, and frequent adjustment.

    China Unicom, together with ZTE and leading enterprises in the industry, have conducted multiple commercial practices of 5G-A applications in the critical production domains, such as 5G-A + cloud-based PLC application in WuHu Midea Kitchen & Bath Appliances Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and 5G-A + industrial control application in Wuhan Iron and Steel Co.,Ltd.

    Wei Yao, director of China Telecom Research Institute of Mobile and Terminal Technology, presented the significant advancements achieved by China Telecom in deterministic network.

    Furthermore, based on their experience in digital transformation practices within the industry, he discussed the future direction of wireless network development.

    Wei Yao emphasized that establishing deterministic network capacity is crucial for industry applications to penetrate the critical production effectively. In collaboration with ZTE, China Telecom aims to continue driving technological innovation, and empowering the new development of industries.

    5G-A is about to enter large-scale construction and accelerate commercial use. ZTE will work with all sectors of the industry to jointly promote the continuous iteration and commercial practice of 5G-A technology, and drive continuous and in-depth development of global digital and intelligent transformation.

    ZTE helps to connect the world with continuous innovation for a better future. The company provides innovative technologies and integrated solutions, and its portfolio spans all series of wireless, wireline, devices and professional telecommunications services.

  2. China Mobile is first out of the gate with large-scale deployment of 5G-Advanced – but it seems to be alone in its enthusiasm.

    Li Qiang, head of the big telco’s planning and construction department, told MWC last week the Chinese giant will roll out the technology in 300 cities this year and aims to fully deploy by 2026.

    He said the company hopes the integration of 5G-Advanced with cloud and AI will create new services based on its rich new user experience capabilities.

    “Driven by both technology and market, 5G-A’s commercial integrated cloud and AI will generate new experiences, new connections, new models and new services, and promote the sustainable development of 5G,” Li said.

    China Mobile has built the world’s largest 5G network, with 1.94 million basestations, covering 94% of the population, according to Li. It spent 81.4 billion Chinese yuan (US$11.3 billion) on capex in the first half of 2023, including 42.3 billion yuan on mobile.

    But other operators just aren’t feeling it – not even in China.

    Rival China Unicom has just begun a 5.5G pilot in Beijing, with coverage in three districts. That is more than China Telecom, whose interest in the technology seems to be limited to the Hangzhou Asian Games.

    CNBC reported on Monday there had been “a lot of chatter” about 5.5G at Barcelona. But no one is publicly committing to it. That is despite Huawei’s best efforts.

    The hype at Barcelona may have been around AI, but for the industry’s biggest vendor, the chief focus was 5.5G. Of Huawei’s 30 news announcements last week, 13 were partially or wholly about 5G-Advanced.

    Many of them were MoUs, such as this one with Zain in Saudi Arabia, this one with Turkcell, or this one with du in the UAE. While these may foreshadow future contracts, an MoU is just a placeholder in the absence of an actual agreement.

    The rather important fact that the 5G-Advanced standard, aka 3GPP Release 18, is not finalized is not helping the sales campaign. It is scheduled to be frozen in the first half of this year, but that is unlikely to unleash a torrent of new equipment orders.

    That is because, as everyone knows, operators are still sweating their massive 5G investments. Telcos aren’t going to be gulled again by tales of ten times more speed, autonomous driving and dazzling new business models.

    While 5G may not have brought in any extra cash, it is at least a much more efficient way of carrying data. If nothing else, the weight of traffic will drive telcos to upgrade their networks – but it doesn’t look like that will be this year.

  3. Telecom operators haven’t yet finished rolling out 5G wireless mobile networks with relatively few 5G SA core networks (real 5G) deployed. Yet bosses of major carriers are already talking about building something called “5.5G,” or “5G Advanced.”

    There was a lot of chatter about 5.5G at the Mobile World Congress tech trade show in Barcelona, Spain. MWC brought together thousands of people in the mobile industry, including from leading telecom companies like Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, BT, and Vodafone.

    At the show, executives from some of these companies that they were working toward rolling out a new generation of mobile internet. That would enable even more advanced applications than the data-intensive apps we’ve all come to use today, such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix, and TikTok.

    These apps are already well served by the current mobile internet, but in the future 5.5G is expected to power more advanced applications. That includes mixed reality headsets, which are getting more and more powerful with tech giants like Apple launching its Apple Vision Pro and Meta upgrading with its Meta Quest Pro headset last year.

    But it also means some of the things that 5G promised us years ago, such as self-driving cars, unpiloted air taxis, and smart manufacturing enabled via the so-called internet of things (IoT), will start to become a reality, too.
    Now, nearly five years on, penetration of 5G among consumers remains low.

    The number of consumers with a 5G connection is increasing. But it’s still well below “mainstream” levels.

    5G has been the fastest mobile generation rollout to date, surpassing 1 billion connections by the end of 2022, rising to 1.6 billion connections at the end of 2023 and 5.5 billion by 2030.

    5G connections are expected to represent more than half (51%) of mobile connections by 2029, though, and that is forecast to then rise 56% by 2030. Those numbers are up to date as of January 2024, GSMA said.

    The latest version of 5G is in 3GPP release 17 and ITU-R M.2150-1. That means 5.5G is dubbed “release 18” by the industry but it won’t be completed till Release 19.

  4. China Mobile has launched what it claims is the world’s first commercial 5G-Advanced network ahead of the standard’s expected completion later this year, and is collaborating with Ericsson to develop use cases for it.

    According to an Ericsson announcement released on Wednesday, China Mobile has launched 5G-A in 100 cities across China, and aims to expand coverage to more than 300 cities before the end of this year.

    China Mobile said it will promote 5G-A by launching over 20 5G-A-compatible devices later this year. The operator has set a target of at least 20 million 5G-A device users in 2024.

    The launch of 5G-A was accompanied by the establishment of an industry alliance for 5G-A innovations and use case development, of which Ericsson is a member.

    “In the future, Ericsson will continue to help China Mobile explore new 5G-A applications and services on domestic and foreign technology and industrial platforms, including the 5G-A Innovation Industry Alliance, carry out technological innovation, and jointly promote the maturity of the 5G-A industry chain by working together to innovate a new 5G-A commercial model,” Ericsson said in a statement.

    China Mobile’s 5G-A launch comes as the 3GPP is still putting the final touches on the standard under Release 18. According to the latest official 3GPP timeline, the standards work on the RAN side was frozen as of December 2023, while the work of the Service and Systems Aspects (SA) group for service and system architecture and the Core Network and Terminals (CT) group were scheduled to be frozen as of last month. Standards covering ASN.1 and Open API are scheduled to be completed in June 2024.

    Key features of Release 18 (apart from faster data speeds) include enhanced uplink coverage, intelligent network automation (including AI/ML RAN), flexible spectrum, improved energy efficiency, support for critical IoT use cases (including RedCap), and integration with non-terrestrial networks.

    In January, China Unicom and Huawei said that they had deployed and tested a pilot large-scale 5G-Advanced network in parts of Beijing with a downlink peak rate of 10 Gbps, and a continuous experience of at least 5 Gbps.

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