Kathy Gibson is at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona – No-one can doubt the popularity of 5G and the speed at which it has taken the world by storm.

To illustrate, it was just one year since the 5G device standard were announced but devices built on that standard are available today.

Another indication is that Huawei has already signed up 30 5G contracts with telecommunications operators, and made more than 40 000 5G equipment shipments to global customers, says Yang Chaobin, chief marketing officer: wireless network at Huawei Technologies.

He believes that operators are leaning towards massive MIMO (M-MIMO) technology for their 5G installations since it increases ell capacity and coverage.

Chaobin points out that 3,5GHz M-MIMO coverage is better than 1,8GHz, with capacity improved by almost 100-times

Power consumption is another issue, he adds, and 5G M-MIMO enables a 50-times energy efficiency per bit enhancement compared to 4G.

Best of all, Chaobin says, is that 5G M-MIMO is key to simplifying sites, reducing deployment time by as much as 35% and the requirement for onsite maintenance by 20%.

“So the installation cost for 5G will be lower than with 4G,” he adds.

With an ultra-simplified architecture that supports both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA), a smooth migration from 4G is ensured.

Hauwei is expanding its 5G offerings in 2019, adding a simplified site that will help operators to reduce the operational costs (opex).

It will do this by launching a blade-based architecture that includes antenna and BBU to reduce the amount of equipment, air conditioning and footprint required in a base station.

This means operators can save between 40% and 60% on energy and between 20% and 50^% on site rental costs.

Huawei is also launching the super blade site, which achieves simplified 5G deployment using just one pole per site.

The next frontier for 5G is the transport network, and a converged solution will help operators to gain quick wins, says Jeffrey Gao, president of router and carrier Ethernet product line at Huawei.

Huawei already leads in 4G mobile backhaul, with an installed base in 190 networks in more than 100 countries, he points out.

“Now operators have to think about 5G and are looking to a converged transport network to enable a quick win.”

“Operators must systematically consider the business needs of the next decade when building 5G transport networks,” Gao points out. “During this process, we believe operators will have to take into account three major standards: affordable bandwidth upgrade costs; 4G and 5G integrated transport; and end to end automated O&M (operations and maintenance).”

Huawei has launched a 5G-ready integrated transport solution that it believes will help operators to offer three core capabilities.

The transport solution is built in a 50GE router and 5G microwave solution based on four-level pulse amplitude modulation (PAM4), which Gao says results int 10Gbps network speeds at sites and a 30% lower total cost of operation.

For fibre access installations, the router supports two-way single-fibre transmission across 80km, reducing the cost per-bit by 30% and fibre resource requirements by 50%.

When fibre access isn’t required, Huawei’s 5G microwave solution can deliver 10Gbps bandwidth access over any frequency band. It also offers flexible channel expansion capabilities, so that only one site visit is needed for service provisioning, reducing operator TCO by 30%.

The 5G-ready converged transport network solution uses what is believed to be the industry’s first commercially-ready SR and SRv6 solution, enabling smooth evolution from MPLS to SR and SRv6 protocols, with no interference between 4G and 5G services.

Huawei’s 5G transport solution supports both MPLS and SR protocols, so that operators can use the SR and SRv6 protocols for deploying end-to-end 5G services while simultaneously using the MPLS protocol for 4G services. This means new services can be deployed while ensuring the continuity of older services.

Built on the network processor (NP) programmable architecture, the SR and SRv6 solution supports smooth evolution from MPLS to SR and then to SRv6 without any changes to the hardware.

A network cloud engine, which Huawei believes is an industry first, integrates network control, management, and analysis, allowing the 5G-ready converged transport network solution to support full-lifecycle automated O&M across the entire transport network.

Huawei’s NCE supports the unified control and management of 4G and 5G transport networks, and provides a machine-machine interface that is driven by models, instead of a human-machine interface. This reduces the time required for service provisioning from hours to minutes. And the telemetry and AI technologies mean it takes minutes, rather than hours, to complete fault demarcation.

The NCE also adds big data analytics capabilities that enable visualised service level agreements (SLAs) and targeted transport network expansion and optimisation.

“5G will meet the needs of both individuals and vertical industries, and support new services such as cloud virtual reality (VR), private lines and connected vehicles,” says Gao. “Future 5G network architecture will be built upon data centres. The quality of various innovative services requires 5G networks to provide guaranteed SLAs. Therefore, upstream and downstream industry players must seize the opportunities presented by 5G development and build an all-in-one converged transport network.”