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Extending 4.5G to unlicensed spectrum

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Kathy Gibson reports from CeBit in Hannover – A shortage of licensed spectrum has been responsible for the slow roll-out of enterprise wireless communications in many instances.
“Wireless networking is a limited resource, and it’s not always available,” says Qui Heng, president of wireless marketing operation at Huawei.
This is exacerbated by the fact that as much as 80% of enterprises are unable to get licensed spectrum at all. “So they can be running good quality networks but there is limited availability.”
Organisations often turn to WiFi to solve the availability issues, but they have to sacrifice performance. “Compared to LTE, the latency and capacity of WiFi are limited. So WiFi is not a good solution, but people don’t have other alternatives,” Heng says.
The ideal solution is a network that can work anywhere – whether there is licenced spectrum or not; anytime – regardless of availability; and with any application – there are many use cases and ideally a single system would support them all.
The 3G environment offers the best solution for networking, says Heng. It already covers about 70% of the world’s land area and 90% of the population. It is also continually evolving: 4G was introduced in 2009, 4.5G has been available since 2016; and 5G is already in the pipeline.
In fact, 4.5G already offers great capacity and availability, Heng says. It is able to communicate with both people and things, has a carrying capacity of 100 000 per square kilometre; and its equipment has a 10-year battery life. “It has wide coverage and carrier-grade SLAs.”
But the technology is still reliant of licensed spectrum.
“As a leader in 4.5G, Huawei has merged the DNA of 4.5G with unlicensed spectrum to launch Enterprise Wireless Communication 2.0.
“So now we have achieved 4.5G wireless networking anywhere, anytime, with any application.”
The new system offers full capabilities for both narrow band and wide band applications, covering people and things for low latency and massive connection use cases.
It can be used in production, operations, management and office jobs, Heng says. “We believe it will accelerate enterprise digital transformation.”
Since it uses unlicensed spectrum, Huawei has added features to ensure the new system still provides industry-level reliability.
“All our 4.5G technology comes with carrier-grade availability of 99,999% uptime,” Heng says. “For Enterprise Wireless Communication 2.0, we have introduced listen before talk mechanisms and advanced anti-interference mechanisms. We have also introduced multi-level redundancy, so the system is highly redundant.
“This means that enterprises can realise industry-level availability on unlicensed spectrum.”
Security is also important, and Huawei guarantees end-to-end security.
The hardware enabling Enterprise Wireless Communication 2.0 is similar to Huawei’s existing AirNode, with the addition of eLTE-U for unlicensed spectrum and eLTE-IoT.
The solution has been piloted in the world’s largest port, says Heng, and realised 99,999% reliability, 20ms latency and 50 AGVs performance.
It has also been used for grid automation for a Chinese power company, getting 100% availability with dense urban coverage.
Enterprise Wireless Communication 2.0 will be available globally in July 2017.
Heng says the initial target markets will be the power industry, for distribution automation; company campuses, where all communication including voice, data, video, surveillance, trunking and more can be integrated; and public safety.