By Vanness You, Vice President Marketing & Solution, Huawei Middle East
As early pioneers of 5G technology, Middle East operators have achieved fast 5G developments relative to the global market. For example, in the consumer segment, 5G has become one of the most attractive branding elements for operators. There are already 10 million 5G subscribers in this region alone.
In the home broadband market, 5G has helped household users easily enjoy excellent internet-surfing experiences, which allows operators to enhance their broadband market share. Other than that, 5G has been a stepping-stone for vertical industries. For example, seven operators have commercially launched 5G leased line products to serve SMEs. Many key sectors such as oil & gas, seaports, and power grid operators have also adopted 5G in their digital solutions.
Nevertheless, behind all this euphoria, operators cannot dodge the challenges that lay ahead:
- Over the past ten years, the revenue growth of OTT/cloud players has been much faster than that of operators. Many operators urgently need to transform to be digital telcos to seize the opportunities of the next decade's digital wave.
- Currently, the digitalization of industry customers is underway. Yet various internal IT platforms and siloed data are independent of each other. This brings great difficulty to operators' O&M. However, the long-tail effect of digitalization is actually pushing operators' operation and maintenance to become more agile and flexible.
- With the deepening of digital transformation, more and more enterprises are migrating their services to the cloud and multi-cloud. Cloud-network synergy, convergence, and even integration have become operators' new resource integration mode. This requires a stronger adaptive capability of the operator's network.
- As the pandemic continues, an immersive digital life has also become the norm. Consumers now expect rich AR/VR content and mobile apps that make their lives more convenient and efficient.
- In the end, there is still room for improvement in meeting the future requirements of industry and consumer customers. Guaranteed and on-demand differentiated experiences have become the standard. User-experience needs are changing from "use as much as you can" to "use as much as you want". Accordingly, on-demand guaranteed experiences become a new channel for operators to monetize in multiple dimensions.
The future network
Huawei has been honored to work together with operators to do in-depth research on future business leadership, network architecture, and technology evolution. To draw the picture of the future network, Huawei thinks five business capabilities are needed: service penetration, efficiency creativity, resource integration, value competitiveness, and social contribution.
- Service penetration capability: This entails full-scenario coverage and full-service penetration capability. Operators should offer gigabit anytime, anywhere and extend the network further, including gigabit user experience and gigabit coverage.
- Efficiency creativity: To improve O&M efficiency, innovations such as automation are paramount. As coverage deepens, the network has more RATs to cope with the requirements of more scenarios (such as ports, mines, and manufacturing), resulting in complex operation and maintenance (O&M). In that case, AI and big data technologies can be leveraged to implement automatic O&M, network autonomy, self-healing, and self-optimization to solve the problems of staff shortages, efficiency, and cost.
- Resource integration: In a future-proof network, computing and network resources are integrated. Data flow drives the high allocation of cloud computing and network transport capacity, maximizing resource utilization.
- Value competitiveness: Telcos should present value competitiveness based on on-demand and differentiated experience monetization. The offering should have a multi-dimensional charging mode to meet future consumer and business requirements for assured experience (e.g. specific requirements for uplink bandwidth and deterministic requirements for latency and bandwidth of various industries).
- Contribution to society: Operators are at the heart of ICT-enabled sustainability efforts in the region. The expansion of green ICT demonstrates their contribution to the environment and society. Energy-saving and green networks enable industry energy-saving and sustainable operations at the customer end.
Based on the above, Huawei has proposed the concept and value proposition of "GUIDE". GUIDE is a business development blueprint to outline the future and address new business challenges through innovative technologies to create network measurement benchmarks. This model can be understood as:
- G: Gigaverse initiative for ubiquitous gigabit connectivity
- U: Ultra-automation speed up
- I: Intelligent computing and Networks as a Service
- D: Differentiated experiences on-demand
- E: Enabling sustainability with green ICT, such as our ‘More Bits Less Watts’ strategy across sites, networks, and O&M
GUIDE is already a reality in the Middle East. For example, Huawei and Zain KSA have already signed a memorandum of understanding on "GUIDE to the Future Network", which aims to explore new avenues of cooperation to define a future-oriented network evolution path, and support Zain to pursue the transition towards a digital economy.
In the end, Huawei has been and will always be here to help our Middle East customers pursue a better future.