IT World Canada had the opportunity to take a tour of Huawei Technologies Co.’s partner-only 5G technology section, an area normally reserved for integrators to understand the benefits of 5G technology. Press was asked to not take pictures, or quote the guide.
Nonetheless, we left with some insightful information on some future 5G use cases.
The walkthrough started with a few numbers. In Korea, Huawei has deployed over 10,000 sites in four months. The deployed base stations offer up to 32 individually controlled antennas for massive MIMO, and can aggregate up to an 80MHz carrier band, resulting in a 925Mbps average data rate.
We had the opportunity of looking at some antenna modules and where they could be integrated. Because 5G networks demand higher density cells, it needs more antennas and base stations. Visual impacts aside, bulky antennae require more effort to install. Huawei showed off a 64T64R antenna module that weighs only 20kg and can easily be managed by one or two workers.
There’s the matter of power efficiency to consider as well. More sites mean more power is required to run them. In the end, it all comes down to power per data unit. In a presentation slide, Huawei shows that 4G transmission efficiency is rated at 3.3 Watt/Mbps, and 5G efficiency rated at 0.13W/Mbps – a 25 times reduction.
5G gear for rural customers
Displayed alongside the antennae were several indoor and outdoor customer premise equipment (CPE). This is used to enable over-the-air 5G reception in rural areas. Huawei CPEs will feature the newly released Balong 5G modem, and support Wi-Fi through a 10GBASE-T or a 1GBASE-T Ethernet cable for data and PoE. CPE will be critical for Canadians living in rural areas.
Once deployed, 5G’s high bandwidth enables endless new use cases. Examples include untethering capture gear that requires high throughput, such as the high-speed cameras used for recording large sports events. Another is security and monitoring; high-resolution photos can be uploaded to the cloud for real-time, off-site processing. In either case, it would reduce the investment in purchasing local hardware.
5G can be used in the farming industry as well. Huawei erected a booth that showed how 5G can help monitor fish farming. One of the most common problems with fish farming is the invasion of ticks. Examining every fish manually is incredibly arduous, but with 5G, farmers can install high-resolution cameras in the pool and feed the video to an image recognition system to check for the presence of not just ticks, but any other superficial conditions.
Bandwidth is one thing, latency is another. In an ideal situation, 5G can achieve a latency of just 1ms. Coupled with higher bandwidth, one use case that immediately comes to mind is gaming. Instead of playing on heavy, bulky PCs and consoles, games can be processed in the cloud and delivered to low-powered devices including smartphones, ultra-thin laptops, and compact home theatre PCs.
As developed as Huawei’s equipment is, the Chinese telecommunications giant is facing international scrutiny about the security of its network equipment due to the possibility of intervention from the Chinese government. As such, Huawei’s potential to become a security problem is still under review by the Canadian government. While Bell and Rogers have been working extensively with Ericsson and Nokia to establish their 5G infrastructure, Telus has heavily invested in Huawei, and has said a Huawei ban could result in higher expenses and more delays in building its 5G networks.