Industry Thought Leadership

10Gbps Society: A Catalyst for Digital Transformation in the Gulf

November, 2023
Dr. Mohamed Madkour
VP, Marketing & Solutions Sales

Huawei Global Carrier Business Group

Digital productivity, fueled by the in-depth application of innovative technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, and ultra-broadband, is emerging as a key driver of economic growth. Enterprises and homes are witnessing rapid adoption of new digital services, accelerating the pace of digital transformation.

Behind this progress is the evolution of ultra-broadband from a limited focus on connectivity to delivering enhanced multi-dimensional digital experiences. In this emergent intelligent era, the emphasis is on unleashing the full potential of digital services, ensuring easy and efficient access for everyone, everywhere and all the time.

Ultra-broadband solves existing challenges that limit productivity by providing massive computing power for digital services, offering guaranteed connectivity for concurrent users, and ensuring ubiquitous access with a high-quality and reliable experience.

The vision involves achieving ubiquitous 10-gigabit access by accelerating mobile and home broadband, intelligent and secure enterprise campus networks, and private line services to 10Gbps. This ambitious goal aims to provide ubiquitous, high-quality, 10-gigabit connections to people and organizations, fostering the widespread adoption of digital services.

The rise of the gigabit society
At the recent Ultra-Broadband Forum (UBBF 2023), Huawei, with its partners, the UAE Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), Omdia, etisalat by e&, MTN South Africa, and others, released 10Gbps City Initiative as a use case for the 10-gigabit era.

The 10Gbps City Initiative advocates for the construction of fully connected 10Gbps cities to provide a ubiquitous network experience, accelerate the digital-intelligent transformation of industries, and boost overall digital productivity. This program envisions an ultra-fast broadband infrastructure that can deliver sustainable 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) of data to individuals, homes, enterprises, and campuses. It is a new type of infrastructure that aims to boost the digital economy and enable new applications and services that require high bandwidth and low latency.
Major cities worldwide, including Riyadh in the region and Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou in China, are actively exploring implementation of 10Gbps City and 10Gbps Society to drive the digital economy's growth momentum.

These cities already have extensive fiber connectivity, facilitating the shift from F5G to F5.5G, driven by the twin engines of new network technology developments and growing application demand. These communities will be able to derive the true value of optical fiber to deliver unprecedented home and enterprise digital experiences including the integration of optical fiber sensing.

A key driver for these applications is video. We have been pursuing a better video experience, steadily moving from standard and high definition to 4K and 8K, as well as real-time, interactive, and immersive experiences delivered by XR and glasses-free 3D video. Metaverse and AR/VR applications are set to change consumer habits and raise higher requirements for communications networks. Excellent broadband quality and low-latency connectivity are required to deliver superior experiences. For example, light-field, glasses-free 3D display requires about 1 Gbit/s of bandwidth and a network latency of less than 5 ms for immersive interactions. Optical reconstruction-based glasses-free 3D display has even higher requirements, requiring about 10 Gbit/s of bandwidth and a latency between 1 and 5 ms. Home networks with 1 to 10 Gbit/s bandwidth and 1 to 5 ms latency are basic requirements for satisfying glasses-free 3D experiences.

Furthermore, apart from speed, ultra-broadband initiatives should prioritize transmission efficiency. A seamless transition from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps, for example, should not incur a cost increase in the same proportion. Therefore, innovations must focus on achieving higher bit efficiency at these high speeds to limit operational expenses. This approach will also contribute to a greener ultra-broadband medium, aligning with environmentally friendly principles.

In the enterprise, industrial applications are often characterized by low latency, deterministic communications, and accurate positioning, while high security and reliability are prerequisites for most vertical applications. An excellent example is the energy sector. As renewable energy accounts for an increasing percentage of all power generated, different services must be strictly isolated while scheduling frequency using a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system must be 10 times higher to ensure stable power supply. This, in turn, requires a network availability of 99.9999%, meaning an annual outage time shorter than 30 seconds. Traditional networks cannot deliver these capabilities.

Huawei's commitment to advancing ultra-broadband technology is evident in the technical upgrades announced at UBBF 2023. These upgrades, aimed at achieving F5.5G innovation, include advancements in optical network solutions, premium broadband deployment , fiber-to-the-room (FTTR), 10G PON & 50G PON port deployment, all-optical switching modules, and 400G/800G non-blocking ultra-broadband. Leveraging new materials and structures, the power consumption per Gbit will be reduced by up to 65%. The continuous innovation and deployment of these technologies contribute to the industry's evolution towards F5.5G, with the vision of achieving "10Gbps Everywhere."

Governments: from regulators to facilitators
While governments have an essential regulatory role in creating a level playing field and setting best practices, the 10Gbps city calls for new levels of engagement and collaboration, requiring that governments transform from a purely supervisory role to also being facilitators. Authorities should seek to provide the necessary digital infrastructure, future-looking policies, regulations, and incentives to support the development and adoption of smart technologies and solutions. They can also create favorable conditions for innovation and collaboration among stakeholders, such as the private sector, academia, civil society, and citizens. A facilitator role can help governments enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness of public services and foster economic growth and social inclusion.

Governments can also act as leaders by setting the vision, goals, and strategies for intelligent city development and transformation. They can also initiate and coordinate large-scale projects and programs that address the most pressing urban challenges and opportunities, such as climate change, mobility, health, education, and security. A leadership role can help governments demonstrate their commitment and accountability to the public interest and inspire and mobilize other actors to join the 10Gbps city movement.

Collaborating with global carriers and industry partners is vital to promote the industry's development. The focus on F5.5G-oriented technological innovations demonstrates Huawei's commitment to improving network capabilities, efficiency, and overall industry transformation eying better life for people, higher productivity for organization and prosperous economy for countries.

In conclusion, the evolution of the ultra-broadband industry, exemplified by initiatives like the 10Gbps City, is a transformative force in the Gulf region and beyond. As governments, industry players, and technology leaders collaborate to overcome challenges and implement ultra-broadband infrastructure, the digital economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is set to thrive. The 10Gbps City Initiative, focusing on ubiquitous connectivity and digital transformation, is a testament to the commitment to shaping a future where digital productivity knows no bounds.