Realising returns on 5G
5G adoption has progressed much faster than 4G, delivering faster download speeds and greater connectivity reliability. It is in the commercial sphere that large-scale deployment of 5G globally has transformed industries.
The automation of factories and application of AI and digital twins would not be possible without the low latency and high bandwidth provided by the 5th-generation technology. These innovative applications are also driving up revenue for operators and helping them achieve business success.
Network operators’ capital expenditure on 5G infrastructure was high, and they are looking for ways to drive up average revenue per user (ARPU) to realise returns on their investments. 5.5G is the evolution of 5G and will protect operators' investments while enhancing business value by building on 5G capabilities to expand business boundaries
5.5G is the essential upgrade for 5G
5.5G has 10 times better network capabilities than 5G, with downlink rates improved from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps and uplink rates improved from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. These attributes will be the driver of the network operator’s revenue as 5.5G will significantly improve user experience and network capabilities.
Multi-dimensional and guaranteed user experiences are becoming increasingly important for consumers. 3D cloud-based videos and games, naked-eye 3D calling, holographic meetings, and the XR experiences will bring users multi-sensory and realistic immersive experiences, which will require up to 10 Gbps and deterministic latency.
3D technology, especially glasses-free 3D technology, has made remarkable progress recently. With the development of optics technology, dynamic eye tracking, and AI, glasses-free 3D tablets have been launched, which will bring a true-to-life experience.
There are two big advances driving this technological shift, first, it is much easier to generate content than before, for example, 2D live videos can easily be converted into 3D live videos with just 5s latency, and with the continuous improvement of AIGC, more 3D content can be quickly generated.
Secondly, the devices supporting this technology are expected to retail for only an additional $100 more than standard devices, making glasses-free 3D terminals easily accessible. Using the support of content and device, we are sure that glasses-free 3D products will provide a true-to-life experience and will revolutionize the industry in the near future.
Current 3D gaming requires 100Mbit/s download speeds, considering the resolution and Frames Per Second required, if we move to real-time 3D interaction in the future, the peak rate of the network needs to be more than 1 Gbit/s. These download speeds are all being facilitated by the innovative technical capabilities of 5G and 5.5G, such as low latency, fast uplink speeds and high degrees of positioning accuracy.
Digital transformation of the industry
On the industrial front, digitalization has already entered the fast lane. AI will be fully integrated into enterprise production processes, and the size of the 5.5G IoT market will grow rapidly. Our statistics show that more than 10,000 companies in various industries have used 5G already. However, many industries now have more challenging requirements.
Collaboration between robots and people in complex scenarios will impose greater requirements on next-generation industrial field networks and some manufacturing control scenarios will require the network to provide 4ms latency and 99.9999% reliability.
These new changes will pose higher requirements on networks, and it is here where stronger capabilities are needed to better support and serve the digital transformation of the industry.
As a low-cost IoT technology, passive IoT allows 100 billion connections. Field tests have shown that it can reach a coverage distance of more than 200m, which is more than 10 times longer than that of RFID. 5.5G delivers deterministic experiences and supports passive IoT and sensing on top of conventional communications capabilities.
In the past, IoT has made significant progress. However, due to terminal costs, it has not emerged at scale.
These Passive IoT technologies could make sensor networks far more economically viable, while dramatically increasing the efficiency of warehouse stocktaking and other industrial processes. For example, the solution could be used to count 100,000 stock items in a warehouse with an accuracy of 99.99%.
For example, in the future, Passive IoT will be widely used in Oil & Gas and ports as the tags will be able to measure temperature, humidity and pressure, key data for predictive maintenance. In many scenarios, the collection terminal cannot use batteries because they are too flammable. Yet a passive IoT solution could be used to collect environmental information and the basic data required for predictive maintenance.
Passive IoT technology is expected to create more business opportunities in scenarios such as warehouse stock-taking, logistics tracking, and environmental monitoring.
All the services and changes demand significantly higher requirements on networks.
A sufficient spectrum is mandatory for sustainable service growth in the 5.5G era and beyond.
For these spectrums, the bandwidth of upper 6 GHz (U6 GHz) is the largest, with ultra-large-bandwidth, 6 GHz has achieved 10 Gbps in the downlink and 1 Gbps in the uplink. Due to the technological innovations achieved with extremely large antenna arrays (ELAA) coverage at 6GH is extended to match that of C-Band.
For ubiquitous coverage, medium and low-frequency spectrums are critical and necessary, for example, FDD and C-band cannot support evolution to 10 Gbit/s. Therefore, 6 GHz is a key resource for operators, especially considering future-oriented evolution. From a recent GSMA report, 6GHz will be commercially ready for large-scale deployment around 2026.
2023 will be a pivotal year for 5.5G. Progress has been faster than predicted in standards, spectrum, industry chain, ecosystem, and applications. 5.5G standards will be delivered in 3GPP Releases 18, 19, and 20. Release 18 will be frozen in H1 of 2024.
All those new changes will bring ten times or even a hundred times new opportunities to the industry by 2030.