Huawei rotating chairman Ken Hu urged the telecommunications industry to increase efforts to deliver relevant 5G use cases for enterprises and continue to enhance telecoms networks with the main aim of meeting the high-performance requirements of new technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

In a keynote speech at Huawei’s annual Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Dubai, Hu outlined three areas of opportunity that will drive the next stage of 5G’s growth, including XR services, the B2B market, and low-carbon development.

The executive also spoke on the current state of 5G development and new opportunities moving forward. “In just five years of commercial deployment, 5G has provided a considerable upgrade in mobile experience for consumers, and it’s already starting to empower different industries around the globe. Progress was much faster than we expected, especially in terms of the subscriber base, network coverage, and the sheer number of 5G terminals on the market,” he said.

Hu noted that there are currently 176 commercial 5G networks around the globe, serving more than 500 million subscribers.

In the enterprise space, there are already 10,000 projects exploring B2B applications of 5G (5GtoB) around the world. 5G applications in industries like manufacturing, mining, and ports have already passed trial and are being replicated at scale, he said.

“Right now more than half of these 10,000 5GtoB projects are in China. We have a huge number of use cases already, but we need to build more sustainable business cases,” Hu said.

Hu also said that the industry needs to get networks, devices, and content ready for explosive growth in Extended Reality (XR). To support a smooth cloud-based XR experience, networks need to provide download speeds faster than 4.6 Gbits with latency no greater than 10 milliseconds. “Last year, we released our goals for 5.5G. And we believe they will help address this challenge,” Hu said.

Hu also noted that telecom operators need to enhance their networks and develop new capabilities to get ready for 5GtoB.  He added that a strong network is key to 5G applications for industrial use, so operators need to keep making improvements to network capabilities such as uplink, positioning, and sensing. “As industrial scenarios are much more complex than consumer scenarios, O&M can be a real challenge. To help, Huawei is developing autonomous networks that bring intelligence to all aspects of 5G networks, from planning and construction to maintenance and optimization.”

Hu also said that the industry needs to get ready to go green. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, digital technology can help reduce global carbon emissions by at least 15%. “On one hand, we have a great opportunity to help all industries cut emissions and improve power efficiency with digital technology,” Hu said. “On the other hand, we have to recognize that our industry has a growing carbon footprint, and we have to take steps to improve that. Right now Huawei is using new materials and algorithms to lower the power consumption of our products, and we’re remodeling sites, and optimizing power management in our data centers for greater efficiency.”

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