As part of the keynote session during the first day of the Ultra-Broadband Forum 2022 (UBBF 2022) in Bangkok, Thailand, two key Huawei executives shed light on the progress, opportunities and innovations for ultra-broadband and fixed 5.5G networks.

Kickstarting his presentation, David Wang, executive director of the board and chairman of ICT infrastructure managing board, Huawei, said: “As you know, we are moving from 5G to the 5.5G era. Likewise, smart home services and industrial digitalization are creating new opportunities for the fiber-centric ultra-broadband industries.”

On the other hand, exploring the full potential of fiber, Richard Jin, president of optical business product line, Huawei, pointed out: “Innovation will never stop. Huawei will continue to innovate in F5.5G, focusing on 10 Gbps everywhere, all-optical switching, industrial applications and the integration of communication and sensing.”

Ultra-Broadband 5.5G: Driving Towards the Intelligent World of 2030

Ultra-broadband has been on a fast track for a decade. From the transition of cable to fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), which made 100 Mbps bandwidth possible on GPON, there were 790 million new FTTH users recorded. Upgrading from GPON to 10G PON, which enabled gigabit access for homes, garnered 100 million over the past five years. Additionally, 1 million users have begun using the fiber-to-the-room (FTTR) technology that extends the gigabit experience to every corner of the home.

“F5G is now ready for full global deployment… Our end goal for all of this work is to help us drive faster to the intelligent world of 2030,” explained Wang. Looking towards 2030, homes, campuses and industrial Internet will have greater connectivity requirements, anticipating ultra-broadband networks to have higher capabilities.

Smart Home. Huawei aims to support the home broadband evolution from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps. “By 2030, we expect FTTH penetration rate to reach 91%, with gigabit and 10-gigabit networks accounting for 55% and 23% of all home broadband networks, respectively.” Currently, homes have an average of five to 20 devices connected to their Wi-Fi networks. The popularization of smartphone devices will drive this number to 150-200. Fiber will therefore need to reach every room, and by 2030, more than 20% of home broadband users will benefit from FTTR.

Intelligent Campus. Large campuses and SMEs need premium broadband for intelligent transformation. On large campuses, 75% of people already use video conferencing at work. Yet, future work models relying on immersive interaction and collaboration tools would require Wi-Fi networks to deliver several 10 Gbps experiences. “Intelligent applications, like 24/7 services, intelligent access controls and robotics, will all run on the same campus networks,” detailed Wang. For SMEs, lightweight network solutions and nonstop network services provide an opportunity for operators to extend their private lines to carrier-grade fiber-connected Wi-Fi.

Industrial Internet. This emerging market involves connected equipment, industrial machine vision and multi-cloud connectivity. 90% of industrial campus equipment is expected to connect wirelessly, while automated industrial control will depend on high-definition machine vision and AI-assisted computing. Future enterprises, on average, will need to connect to more than five clouds, requiring networks to dynamically adjust their routing.

“Higher requirements on connectivity bandwidth, latency, reliability and dynamic connectivity to multiple clouds will require operators and industrial campuses to extend their collaboration from private lines to campus networks and onto cloud data centers,” Wang expounded.

With enhanced capacity and intelligence, ultra-broadband networks bring 10 times the capacity as well as energy and O&M efficiencies. Ultra-broadband 5.5G will be a key milestone on the path towards the intelligent world, and the collaboration of all industry players, including standards organizations, regulators, operators and equipment vendors, will be crucial for success.

The next steps to be taken include defining next-generation standards as soon as possible; making new breakthroughs on the optical and IP technology fronts; accelerating the formulation of new policies and target networks; and exploring new applications.

“Let’s leverage ultra-broadband 5.5G technologies, build 5.5G networks and develop a 5.5G ecosystem. Together, we can move our industry forward,” Wang concluded.

Ultimate Experience Offered by F5.5G Innovations

Fiber has the unique characteristics of having an ultra-large capacity and a long lifetime. Both fiber and spectrum are the most strategic resources of operators. “Global operators are deploying FTTH widely, as gigabit bandwidth becomes a universal service,” stated Jin.

In 2020, ETSI released the F5G standards and defined the three features: enhanced fixed broadband (eFBB), full fiber connections (FFC) and guaranteed reliable experience (GRE). In April this year, Huawei proposed F5.5G, which extends to three new dimensions: green agile optical networks (GAO), real-time resilient links (RRL) and optical sensing and visualization (OSV).

With these in mind, here are some of Huawei’s breakthrough innovations in F5.5G:

50G PON. Huawei innovated in two directions to make the next-generation standard of 10G PON compatible with existing networks. Taper amplifiers and high-sensitive receivers provided 40 km of coverage, while photonic integration made the compact 50G PON 3-mode combo module.

Super C+L Wider Spectrum. For spectrum extension, a conventional manner is from C-band to L-band. By adding new doping elements and increasing concentration, Huawei achieved 50% wider spectrum, with 100 Tbps capacity in a single fiber through a 400G/800G combination.

OXC Optical Cross Connection. As the key enabler for green all-optical networks, Huawei adopted a 3D lattice algorithm to improve the fiber density of the optical backplane by 35%. That means one sheet of A4 paper can print 1,000 fibers. Compared to the traditional ROADM OXC, there is 90% less space and 60% less power consumption.

Alps-WDM. Compared with the traditional solution, the agile, long-term evolution, pooling and simplified wavelength division multiplexing (Huawei OptiX Alps-WDM) can provide 10x higher bandwidth, reduce footprint by tenfold, support 10-year evolution and save 20% of OPEX annually. “Alps-WDM is a really good solution for the metro area. I do believe Huawei OptiX Alps-WDM is the best TCO-effective solution for your metro network,” Jin noted.

Optical Service Unit. OSU is the next-generation OTN technology. It can reduce the latency by 70% and can support hitless bandwidth adjustment from 2 Mbps to 100 Gbps. It can also provide 100 times the quality of private line connections.

FTTR with C-WAN. Huawei FTTR adopts the centralized Wi-Fi access network (C-WAN) architecture that ensures the ultimate gigabit home broadband experience. It significantly mitigates Wi-Fi interference and resource conflicts, improving throughput by 50%, essentially coordinating frequency band resources for FTTR devices and providing concurrent access for up to 128 IoT devices. “We expect that FTTR subscribers will reach 2 million worldwide by the end of this year,” declared Jin.

Fiber Iris. This innovation, applied to ODN networks, ensures 100% resource accuracy, improving time-to-market and protecting investment without any ports wasted, utilizing oDSP and AI technology.

ADN. Upgrading ADN from level three to level four can help suppress OPEX growth. Huawei’s StellarGo provides multi-factor path computation for optical private lines. The path computation success rate can reach 99% while the service provisioning efficiency can be improved by 70%. Based on 1-minute QoE data awareness, Huawei StellarCue’s proactive experience assurance reduces customer complaints and ensures a positive user experience.

“We need to work together [and] welcome operators and industry partners to join in the F5.5G innovation to fully improve capabilities and seize opportunities in the digital wave. Let’s work together to stride to F5.5G together,” concluded Jin.

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