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The GSMA's Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2023 has concluded, leaving behind a spirit of innovation, collaboration and expectation. MWC Shanghai 2023 attracted a record-breaking 37,000 attendees from 115 countries and territories, serving as a platform for policymakers, industry leaders and members of the mobile ecosystem to converge and explore the newest innovations in the telco industry.

Huawei, a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) solutions, made a significant appearance at this year's event. Huawei's participation was distinguished by its exciting outlook on the 5.5G era, emphasizing its important contributions to the future of mobile networks.

While 5G has already been commercially available in over 100 countries over the last four years, industry leaders believe the moment has come for 5.5G and 5G-Advanced to shine.

With the advent of 5G-Advanced (5G-A), the long-awaited promise of 5G to transform connected services is closer than ever. As 5G has continued to benefit organizations worldwide since its standardization in 2018, the industry is looking forward to Release 18 in 2024, which will be dedicated to 5G-A. As a midpoint in the standardization of this generation, 5G-A is positioned to achieve the concept of the "internet of everything," ushering in a new era of connectivity and innovation.

The capabilities and potentials of 5G-A are detailed in the latest industry report from the GSMA, titled "Advancing the 5G Era: Benefits and Opportunity of 5G-Advanced." This groundbreaking overview, the first of its kind, provides businesses with valuable insights on how to capitalize on 5G-A's commercial potential. It emphasizes how 5G-A will significantly improve 5G's performance, management and adaptation to specific use cases. As a result, 5G will be used for a broader range of applications, in more places and on a larger scale, revolutionizing everyday services and activities through a high-quality connection.

Huawei’s vision of the “5.5G Era” showcases an end-to-end solution that incorporates modern technologies, including 5.5G, F5.5G and Net5.5G. This new era of telecommunications aims to meet a wide range of service requirements while providing a stunning tenfold increase in network capacity, with peak downlink speeds of 10 gigabits and peak uplink speeds of 1 gigabit.

Improvements and Advantages

One of the primary advantages of 5G-A is its capacity to meet the changing needs of various industries. Autonomous driving, smart manufacturing, and virtual and augmented reality all necessitate a quicker and more dependable network connection. With 5G-A, these industries will be able to exploit the great power of real-time data transmission, enabling substantial breakthroughs and fueling a global digital revolution.

The expected improvement in uplink and downlink speeds of 5G-A will enable more immersive, interactive and haptic applications.

These applications are likely to be widely used in the entertainment, training and education sectors, allowing for new types of remote engagement as well as the formation of digital communities. According to the GSMA report, 5G-A provides the high data rates and low latency needed for the widespread adoption of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and extended reality (XR). As 5G-A becomes the worldwide standard, XR solutions will adapt to the user’s mobility and location, broadening the capabilities of these metaverse technologies. The report also delves into the idea of a "mobile metaverse," exploring ways to support interactive XR media shared by several users in a single area and determining the best methods for recognizing individuals' digital representations.

5G-A is also foreseen to improve the compatibility of low-cost, low-power devices like industrial wireless sensors and wearables. This will make it easier to integrate advanced Internet of Things (IoT) services into business operations, resulting in more engaging and cost-effective products and services.

The promise of the 5.5G era extends far beyond China's borders. As the world becomes more interconnected, 5.5G improvements will have a significant impact on global economies, cultures and individuals. The ability to efficiently and securely send and analyze massive volumes of data will open up new opportunities for businesses, transform healthcare services and empower individuals with immersive digital experiences.

Preparations Are Underway

Industry collaboration has already begun in order to prepare for the commercialization of 5G-A. For example, in December 2022, China Mobile gathered 65 industry partners, including Huawei, Zhanrui, Vivo and the Sinobo Group, to establish an industry-wide 5G-A action plan. The goal of this collaboration has been to share technological advances, synchronize priorities and perform mutual testing.

Richard Cockle, global head of IoT, identity and big data, GSMA, said, “5G-Advanced, the next milestone in the 5G era, has demonstrated the innovativeness and future potential of the already-standing 5G ecosystem with improvements to speed, coverage and efficiency. Enhancing the XR capabilities and sustainability within AI & Machine Learning designs, 5G-A has created several business opportunities for the global enterprise market.”

Last June, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) and Huawei co-hosted the 5G-Advanced Core Industry Forum, which brought together telco industry thought leaders and specialists, marking a significant milestone in the advancement of 5G technology.

During the forum, Huawei introduced a 5G-Advanced Core Marketing Project with industry partners. The goal of this program is to encourage industry consensus and commercial implementation of a new 5G-Advanced core architecture and create an intelligent, convergent core network that connects everything and allows all services, allowing the vision of an intelligent world to be realized.

Leo Ma, president of Huawei's cloud core network marketing department, emphasized the criticality of core network construction and development in the evolution of 5G-Advanced. Mr. Ma stated, "The evolution of 5G-Advanced has reached a critical juncture, at which the construction and development of the core network are absolutely essential. The 5G-Advanced Core will unlock more and more services and experiences, as well as [stimulate] innovation with enhanced capabilities and connectivity. Huawei is committed to creating new value for the industry, helping all industry players seize business opportunities and fully embrace the new intelligent world."

Meanwhile, at the recently concluded MWC Shanghai 2023, Huawei announced that it intends to release a full set of commercial 5.5G network equipment by 2024, ushering in the 5.5G era for the ICT industry. The company has also been actively collaborating with numerous industry partners to advance 5.5G research and development, making significant advances in critical technologies such as vast antenna arrays (ELAA), flexible spectrum access for gigabit uplink and passive IoT for enabling massive IoT connections.

Looking Ahead

As we get closer to the commercialization of 5G-A, the industry is bursting with enthusiasm. 5G-A's faster speeds, lower latency and greater capabilities will open up a world of possibilities, transforming how we live, work and interact. The implications will be felt throughout industries, paving the way for new applications, higher productivity and better user experiences. However, it is vital to emphasize that the effective deployment of 5G-A would necessitate considerable infrastructure expenditures, ongoing innovation and stakeholder collaboration. 5G-A has the ability to alter our digital world and usher in a new era of connectivity with concentrated efforts and a clear vision.

While 5G-Advanced has enormous potential, it is crucial to recognize that its fulfillment will take time and not be without some bumps in the road, especially if it seeks to bridge the industry as it shifts to the 6G network. Meanwhile, many industry professionals feel the industry is still in the early stages of developing a comprehensive vision for 6G. As a result, the 5.5G milestone is seen as a crucial step forward in overall network development.

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