The next generation of 5G on the horizon for Asia Pacific, according to Huawei

By Ming En Liew

At a media brief held during the Mobile World Congress, Abel Deng, President of the Carrier Business Group, Asia Pacific, Huawei, delved into the future of connectivity in the Asia Pacific, and gave a glimpse into the up-and-coming technologies the ICT provider has to offer.

As 5G coverage continue to permeate the region, Asia Pacific will see a rise in 5G-enabled technologies, including applications in smart cities, ports, and the likes. Image: Huawei

One gigabit per second - that’s the promise of 5G. With that comes the possibility of unprecedented automation, mixed reality experiences, 8K video streaming, and many more. But while 5G is still in the early stages of roll-out across the world, another storm is already underway: 5.5G, otherwise known as 5G advanced.


According to Huawei, this new generation of connectivity will improve latency, accuracy and reliability by tenfold, bringing connectivity speed up to 10 gigabits per second. This will unlock even greater immersion and interaction capabilities, enabling applications like 3D online shopping, 24K virtual reality gaming, and industrial applications. 


For instance, 5.5G can improve positioning accuracy in vehicles to the point that sensors will be able to detect obstacles up to 1 kilometre away.  In contrast, current sensors which typically rely on LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology can only detect obstacles up to 500 metres ahead.


At a media brief with Abel Deng, President of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, Asia Pacific, he shared more about Huawei’s plans to drive digitalisation in the APAC region, whether through 5G, or beyond. 


Levelling up 5G connectivity for improved productivity


While 5.5G applications may still be a few years down the road, Deng shared that Huawei's 5G initiatives have already led to improved productivity for many organisations. 


At Tianjin Port, the largest port in mainland China, 5G-enabled automation has improved efficiency by 20 per cent and reduced energy consumption by the same amount. It does so with automated container cranes and electric trucks that have replaced the manual and costly process of having human drivers man container trucks 24 hours a day. 

Huawei's 5G solutions also enable the smooth communication between offshore oil rigs and operations centres in Malaysia, enabling real-time monitoring of core operations and the extraction process. Image: Huawei

5G-powered artificial intelligence programmes have also shown great promise for mining applications, making them safer and more efficient. The high bandwidth and ultra low latency of 5G allows for real-time video, allowing workers to monitor operations on mining belt conveyors remotely, from the safety of their offices. At the same time, AI aids in identifying potential anomalies. Combined, such technology is able to reduce the number of underground inspection personnel needed by 20 per cent.


At MWC, Huawei announced several new products that will help drive 5G coverage across the region. 


In particular, he highlighted a new network infrastructure product: the MetaAAU. 


The MetaAAU enables organisations to not just deploy 5G networks more efficiently, but also makes them greener. 


Deng explained that the MetaAAU has the potential to improve download speed and capacity by over 30 per cent and to reduce energy consumption by almost 30 per cent. Today, the MetaAAU is already deployed in over 50 cities across the world. The product was awarded the 'Best Mobile Network Infrastructure' at MWC. 


The tech giant dedicated 22 per cent of its annual revenue to research and development (R&D) in 2021, Deng shared. In 2022, this percentage rose to 29 per cent of its annual revenue. 


"With this continuous investment, we bring a lot of new products which we believe are leading and cutting-edge," he said during the media brief. 


Promoting inclusivity 


One of Huawei's missions is to bring the inclusivity of the digital world to all, including those in remote areas, Deng says. 

By implementing more widespread 5G connectivity, Deng expressed his hopes that it will bring more inclusive digital services to remote areas across the Asia Pacific region. 


For instance, 5G can enable the remote diagnoses of patients. This gives those who may not live near major hospitals more ready access to healthcare, enabling them to receive a diagnosis and treatment more quickly, Deng explained. 


Nevertheless, Deng acknowledged that APAC is extremely uneven in its level of connectivity. While some nations may already have widespread 5G coverage, others may have less than 50 per cent 4G coverage. 


"When it's diversified, it means we [need to] have different approaches to provide services to bridge the gap and bring inclusivity to all the people," Deng said.


One way Huawei does so is through its RuralStar base station. This is a unique wireless technology that prioritises simplicity and energy efficiency. Its small size means that it can easily be mounted on regular wooden or steel poles, and connectivity can be achieved in less than a week. Additionally, the technology is able to run on no more energy than that which powers five lightbulbs.

RuralStar has already been launched at the Maopo Village of the Guizhou Province in China. The village is situated in a valley that is often foggy, hindering connectivity via microwave solutions. At the same time, winding mountain roads mean that laying optical fibres would be extremely costly. But RuralStar was successfully installed in a mere two hours, and the city now enjoys network coverage of 85 per cent, with downlink speeds reaching 30 megabit per second.

This article is published in partnership with Huawei.