Huawei used its Ultra Broadband Forum 2021 – the seventh in the annual series – to update on key technologies and its enabling vision to expand ultra-broadband connectivity deeper into home and enterprise markets. It said that carriers and operators are on the verge of a new chapter in connectivity, and could adopt technologies to transform their offer both in the home and for enterprises.
Introducing the event, held in Dubai, Ryan Ding, Executive Director of the Board, President of the Carrier Business Group, Huawei, said that connectivity is now more important than ever to our world.
“When the pandemic hit, connectivity re-shaped how we live: work, entertainment and education are no longer restricted by time and space,” he said, citing as one example the way in which Huawei has remotely welcomed hundreds of customers from all over the world to its exhibition facility in Shenzhen.
“But connectivity is more than an expansion of functions,” Ding continued, “it is an emotional bond. It is also accelerating industrial development and driving advances in the enterprise.”
Where there is connectivity there is innovation
Ding highlighted how digital technology can transform manufacturing and R&D processes, so that testing and development can be carried out in a simulated manner, increasing efficiency. Enhanced connectivity is also enabling greater safety. Coal mining companies are using advanced fibre connectivity to reduce or even eliminate the need for underground workers, and to deploy sensors and location services deep underground, saving lives.
“Where there is connectivity there is innovation,” Ding said, “the virtual and real worlds are converging, creating a multi-dimensional and more diverse world, presenting us with unlimited possibilities.”
Shaping the direction of the remainder of the event, Ding asked, “What should we do now? I believe it is our mission to create a connected world and open a new chapter for connectivity.”
EXTEND CONNECTIVITY, DRIVE GROWTH
Answering the challenge laid down by Ryan Ding was Peng Song, President of Global Carrier Marketing and Solution Sales at Huawei. Peng’s keynote speech, titled “Extend Connectivity, Drive Growth” laid out Huawei’s connectivity vision, and highlighted key technical innovations to enable that vision.
Peng showed how Huawei models its strategy around C.A.F – a concept it first outlined at UBBF 2020. C.A.F stands for Coverage, Architecture, Fusion, a model that he said enables operators to meet customer requirements and build competitiveness.
We are seeing increasing needs for greater in-home connectivity – driven by growing usage, Peng said. Over 420 million students now study online, and there are 20 million live streamers, 10x more than before the pandemic. One building in Hanzhou alone houses 12,000 live streamers.
Peng suggested two ways to extend connectivity to homes. One is to use Huawei’s full-service fibre grid planning and industry-leading AirPON and Digital QuickODN solutions to accelerate fibre coverage and extend fibre to homes. The other is to move from FTTH (Fibre to the Home) to FTTR (Fibre to the Room), further extending fibre to rooms for home networking.
Huawei’s AirPON can also contribute greatly. It can re-use existing sites and resources, speeding up construction. Rostelecom from Russia used this solution to provide network coverage in the Arctic Circle, connecting 100 households within just five days.
Innovative deployment technology can also enhance fibre rollouts. “Huawei’s Digital QuickODN solution does not need fibre splicing which normally requires highly skilled technicians. After using this solution, du, an operator from UAE, shortened its time to market from two months to one week, and reduce CAPEX by 30%,” Peng said.
“FTTR represents the highest quality of home broadband network. In the past, operators sold one ONT to each home; now they can sell 10 ONTs for each home network. This doubles ARPU. Operators can also provide FTTR to small enterprises which require one-stop integration services,” Peng said.
Taking the stage after Peng, Bill Wang, Vice President of Huawei’s Optical Product Line, added some detail to the ODN and OTN products. DQ ODN is a solution that implements plug-and-play, scanning for resource visualisation, and one-click O&M through pre-connection, intelligent image recognition, and optical iris technologies. With this solution, operators can quickly build an all-optical target network that is visible and manageable from end to end.
Edge OTN is a full-scenario and full-service integrated bearer platform. It supports indoor and outdoor cabinets and OLT/BBU co-cabinet deployment, adapts to installation in all cabinets, and meets the requirements of high-speed energy-saving transmission at integrated access sites.
Increasingly, operators have started to provide scenario-based broadband services. China Telecom, for example, offers a broadband package for live streamers in Yunnan province, and the ARPU from this service is higher than ordinary plans. 3BB from Thailand offers a broadband package for gaming, increasing ARPU by 10%.
In enterprise scenarios, Peng emphasized that leased lines need to provide differentiated offerings to stay competitive. More importantly, connectivity needs to be extended inside enterprises so that it moves from being a communications technology to and operational technology.
“If we can extend connectivity from WAN to LAN, leased lines become private networks, and it’s the new blue ocean for operators,” he added.
Operators can do this by developing differentiated offerings such as fixed IP and providing dedicated customer services. Here, Huawei is taking its own medicine.
“Huawei deployed a passive optical LAN (POL) at one of our factories,” Peng said. “The space of the equipment room and cabling was reduced by 80%, and power consumption was cut by 50%.
Fusion is important because connectivity needs to be cloud-centric and converge with cloud. Here, the network connectivity provided between enterprises and their cloud base applications becomes as responsive, quick and flexible as the cloud itself. If it doesn’t, then operator lease lines become challenged by software-defined WANs.
Peng proposed SRv6 to enable one-hop access to the cloud, so that services can be provisioned in minutes. China Telecom in Jiangsu province has achieved with SRv6 to allow quick migration to the cloud.
“This solution can support agile access to the cloud and make leased lines more competitive,” he said.
Operators can also harness new technology to provide multi-cloud network connectivity, compering directly on quality and latency with IXP providers. Added to that is the ability to provide deterministic connectivity, with cloud-centric network slicing.
“If we can meet these requirements, we will have much more space to grow,” Peng said.
Kevin Hu, President of Huawei’s Data Communication Product Line, added depth on how Huawei’s Intelligent Cloud-Network Solution and NetEngine series intelligent routers provide differentiated cloud-network convergence services.
The NetEngine 8000 M series devices provide multi-service processing capabilities that are originally provided by different devices, such as BRAS, CGN, IPsec, and SR.
“In this way, a CO can provide services for home, mobile, and enterprise users, opening up new business growth space while reducing the TCO incurred,” Hu said. He pointed out how fusing the network and cloud can deliver Network-as-a-Service. “Through cloud-oriented simplified APIs, the integration workload of the OSS and BSS domains is reduced by more than 80%, more than 10 cloud SPs are pre-integrated, and more than 20 OSS/BSS domain vendors are interconnected,” he added.
The final pillar of the vision is that ability to build a future-oriented network architecture.
Firstly, it should be elastic. “We can build an all-optical foundation to bring fiber to everywhere with OTN and optical cross-connect, or OXC,” Peng said, “Spine-leaf architecture can enable more scalability for the datacenter-centric network. SRv6 deployed over the entire network can enable end-to-end slicing.” Network services need to be greener, something helped by the shift from copper to fiber, while the deployment of OXC cuts power consumption in the transport network.
A new architecture can also reduce OPEX, by automating network operations via fault detection, location and rectifcation. This architecture can also enable users access to network APIs to adjust network access according to their needs.
“China Unicom users can check network performance and adjust bandwidth on their own through Smart Link provided by the operator. This service increases the China Unicom revenue, and this is also a quite successful practice in our industry,” Peng said.
ACTION, NOT WORDS
Peng finished with a call to action.
“There are huge opportunities for connectivity,” he said. “It is key for operators to build network competitiveness based on the C.A.F model. There is an Arabic saying ‘Actions are fruits while words are but leaves.’ Huawei is continuing to focus on innovation in connectivity technologies. We will continue to play our part and support our customers to achieve business success both now and in the future.”