Industry Thought Leadership

5.5G Era, a Key Milestone for the Intelligent World

April, 2023
An Jian
President of Huawei Carrier Business Group in the Middle East and Central Asia Region


The implementation of 5G technology in the Middle East region has been ongoing for over four years, resulting in the launch of 17 commercial networks with over 20 million 5G users, including 2.3 million home mobile broadband users and 57,000 business users. The introduction of 5G has provided significant benefits to the carriers, as new services and scenarios targeting consumers, homes, and businesses have continued to emerge. Also, as the industry's digitalization accelerates, the networks will face a growing array of new requirements for diverse sets of industry-specific digital use cases, leading to demands for new features to bridge the functionality gaps in an immersive experience, industry capability, and all-scenario IoT connections. Therefore, the telco industry stakeholders have already agreed to the 5G evolution.

To ensure ubiquitous superior experience and efficiency in operating a complex network while meeting the ICT low carbon target, Huawei believes that aligning technology evolution in other network domains, further developing the Autonomous Driving Network (ADN) to a higher level, and fully adopting green ICT development are essential. Huawei refers to the combination of wireless, fixed and IP network evolution, ADN Level 4 and green development as the 5.5G era.

The 5.5G wireless technology concept was first introduced by Huawei in 2020, and 3GPP officially launched 5G-Advanced in 2021. 5.5G is now defined as the next evolution of 5G, and Huawei is working with 3GPP and partners to drive the 5.5G standards development. In 5.5G, new features, such as functions for better uplink traffic, true real-time communication, and more harmonized communication, will be introduced, enabling many digital use cases, such as transmitting a large volume of high-resolution video images in real-time without any quality degradation, making holographic communication a reality, using wireless sensing technology for road-Vehicle communication, and deploying passive-IoT devices managing smart warehouse and logistic tracking, which will open up new business opportunities for the carriers.

In addition, within the optical network (fixed network), to meet network connection requirements for higher-than-gigabit bandwidth, ETSI released the F5G Advanced and Beyond White Paper in 2022, and WBBA (World Broadband Association) released the next-generation broadband development roadmap. The evolution from 1Gbps to 10Gbps has gradually become a consensus in the industry. Huawei has also raised the concept of F5.5G in 2022. The F5.5G aims to enable fibre everywhere to provide a 10Gbps fibre experience, industry-level RRL, all-optical architecture, and high-precision optical sensing. New features, such as a greener agile fibre optical network and optical sensing and visualization, will be added onto existing features, including enhanced fixed broadband experience, full fibre connections, and guaranteed reliable experience.

The evolution of IP networks will go hand in hand with both wireless and fixed network technologies. Huawei has been working with World Broadband Association(WBBA) and Network Innovation and Develop Alliance(NIDA) to formulate Net5.5G, which will be the first official technical specification for all IP-related features. The key features will include WiFi7, 800GE to enable 10Gbps experience, End-to-End SRv6, and network slicing as part of IPv6 Enhanced feature, and AI fabric DCN to fully release AI computing power. The Autonomous Driving Networks (ADN) L4 will include digital map, intelligent on-call construction, and fault self-healing. Cloud-based security-as-a-Service with intelligent detection will ensure ubiquitous security across the whole network.

As a part of the 5.5G Era, our objective is to provide support to carriers in achieving Autonomous Driving Network (ADN) Level 4. This will be accomplished by introducing a range of AI and big data-powered digital operation applications. These innovative network/ICT services will be designed to automate processes with zero wait time, zero-touch, and zero trouble. This will benefit both vertical industries' users and consumers by supporting self-configuration, self-healing, self-optimizing, and self-evolving telecom network infrastructures. The autonomous driving network at level 4 will make decisions based on various factors such as cost, energy efficiency, and network availability. For instance, if there is a sudden surge in network traffic, it will automatically adjust its resources to ensure uninterrupted service.

We are also aware of the increasing need for sustainable growth and environmental impact awareness among ICT service providers. Hence, we will introduce a green ICT development program as an integral part of the 5.5G era. This program will enable operators to manage both active and idle scenarios through site, network, and operation, using a green indicator system, and deploy three layers of solution deployment to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring zero impacts on customer experience.

In 2022, Huawei collaborated with leading carriers and industry partners in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific to innovate on 5.5G, F5.5G, and Net5.5G. During this process, we explored various business scenarios and verified key technologies such as Passive-IoT, U6GHz & mmWave spectrum, 400G and 50GPON. In addition, several carriers have also started working with Huawei on the design of use cases for ADN L4 and green ICT solutions.

We believe that working together with carriers and industry partners worldwide is essential to evolve ICT infrastructure, lay the foundation for the 5.5G era, which will enhance the user experience by tenfold, extend carriers business from connectivity to sensing, support all scenario IoT connectivity, achieve L4 high autonomy network with full stack AI native ADN transformation, and meet carriers' sustainability objectives with green development solutions. In the Middle East, Huawei is committed to supporting countries in achieving their visions of digitization and sustainable development, while also helping them become leaders in 5.5G deployment. We are dedicated to creating new value and driving innovation in the ICT industry through collaboration with our partners.