Even though Huawei products are unwelcome in American telecom networks, the Chinese company still wants people in the telecom world to know about its wireless innovations and the work it’s doing with operators in other parts of the world. This week Fierce Wireless spoke with Mohamed Madkour, VP of global marketing and solution sales for carrier networks at Huawei.

Madkour said he spends much of his time marketing Huawei in Latin America and the Middle East. The company is also active with customers in Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia, including China, obviously.

At MWC 2023 earlier this year, Huawei had a huge exhibit space with at least a dozen operators outside of China co-exhibiting with it.

While the big three Chinese operators are highly advanced when it comes to having standalone 5G networks, many of Huawei’s other customers around the world are still on a path from 4G to 5G.

“To me, standalone or non-standalone is not a technical issue, it is a business and investment issue,” said Madkour. “If a carrier sees an immediate opportunity they do standalone. But what I’ve seen globally is most of our carrier networks are kind of hybrid. They leverage the nice blanket of LTE coverage and then organically put 5G on top of that. It’s a business decision.”

Others have noted that one barrier to moving to standalone 5G is establishing a cloud-native core network. Cloud native requires a specialized skill set. “We try to make the movement to cloud native as seamless as possible,” said Madkour. “But it’s all a learning curve. We’ve gathered a lot of expertise by building 5G core and standalone in other countries.”

Monetizing 5G

In the U.S., the hype cycle for 5G is definitely over. Asked how Huawei markets 5G, Madkour said fixed wireless access (FWA) has been appealing to operators. “Two-thirds of the operators that have commercial 5G networks are already providing that service,” he said. “In some countries it’s then providing a very significant revenue and covering a lot of home broadband, connecting the unconnected in remote areas.”

He said in addition to 5G technology, FWA also requires “availability of the good spectrum… and it’s a matter of the investment of the operator of how broad and deep the coverage is.”

In China, operators are finding some new 5G revenue by offering “uplink packages.” The Chinese consumer has a high demand for uploads, and the big carriers offer upload speed boosts for an extra charge. For example, there’s a stock trading package, said Madkour.

Energy efficiency

Huawei is gung-ho about energy efficiency technology. 

There are different perspectives on whether 5G is more, or less, energy efficient than previous wireless technologies.

Madkour said, “To carry 1 bit over 5G is much more efficient than to carry on a 4G network, by a factor of 5 to 10.” But that efficiency is somewhat negated because “of course a layer of technology is going to consume energy.”

Huawei is working on an initiative called  “zero bit, zero watt,” where it’s trying to get the carrier network to consume zero energy if there is no demand for bits. Basically, the network sleeps or wakes up, dynamically, based on demand.

“We’re not there yet, but we’re closer to lowering energy consumption,” said Madkour. “We have deep dormancy of the equipment.”

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