Huawei Technologies Co will launch a complete set of commercial 5.5G network equipment next year, as part of a broader push to speed up the evolution of 5G and kick off the 5.5G era for the information and communications technology industry.
The plan comes amid rapid progress in 5G deployment over the past four years that is already yielding significant financial gains, experts said, adding that the fast-approaching 5.5G will be a key milestone in 5G evolution.
Huawei proposed the concept of a "5.5G Era" to protect telecom operators' investment in 5G, and improve network performance by 10 times. The 5.5G era will feature 10-gigabit peak downlink speeds and gigabit peak uplink speeds to meet increasingly diverse service requirements. It will also use new technologies like passive internet of things to unlock a market of 100 billion IoT connections.
"With a clearly defined standardization schedule, the 5.5G Era is already poised for technological and commercial verification," Yang Chaobin, president of ICT Products& Solutions at Huawei, said during the Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2023 in June.
"In 2024, Huawei will launch a complete set of commercial 5.5G network equipment to be prepared for the commercial deployment of 5.5G. We look forward to working with all industry players to embark on the new journey toward the 5.5G era," Yang said.
Huawei has been working with multiple players across the industry on R&D and verification of key 5.5G technologies, with significant progress, specifically in extremely large antenna arrays which underpin 10-gigabit downlinks, flexible spectrum access that helps in realizing gigabit uplinks, and passive IoT that can enable 100 billion IoT connections.
According to the company, 50G PON is another key technology that can enable 10-gigabit speeds for F5.5G ultra-broadband networks, and is expected to be extensively used in homes, campuses, and industry in the future.
Huawei has worked with over 30 operators around the world on technological verification and application pilots for these technologies, the company said.
The industry is still in its earliest stage of developing a vision for 6G, and has only just begun related research into key technologies. This is the reason why many have turned to 5.5G as their milestone for future development. The 10-fold improvement in network capabilities in the 5.5G era is set to enable numerous industries to unleash the productivity of digital technology, Huawei said.
There are more than 260 commercial 5G networks worldwide today, serving over 1.2 billion users, according to data compiled by Huawei.
In China, the number of 5G base stations exceeded 2.84 million by the end of May as the country ramped up efforts to build the world's largest and most advanced network infrastructure, said Wang Jiangping, vice-minister of industry and information technology, during the Global Digital Economy Conference 2023 held in Beijing earlier this month.
With technologically advanced network infrastructure, China has been accelerating the development of the digital economy in recent years.
The scale of China's digital economy grew to 50.2 trillion yuan ($7 trillion) in 2022. The share of the digital economy in the country's GDP rose to 41.5 percent, making it an important engine for stable growth and transformation, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.
With service models and content evolving continuously, breakthroughs in technologies like goggles-free 3D are creating unprecedented immersive experiences for users. However, these new services require stronger 5G network capabilities, making a stronger case for 5.5G modalities.