Yang Chaobin, Senior Vice President and President of ICT Products & Solutions at Huawei, explained why this is needed: "The rapid growth of 5G has led to new service requirements becoming more diverse and complex, requiring stronger 5G capabilities. Taking 5G to its next milestone, 5.5G is necessary to improve 5G, which has become an industry trend and an established consensus. Now, the industry has defined roadmaps for 5G-Advanced (5.5G), F5G-Advanced (F5.5G), and Net5.5G standards and has introduced clear spectrum strategies. Key technologies and applications have been verified and industry consensus has steadily progressed to best practices. With all these developments, 5.5G is arriving at an accelerated rate to improve network capabilities by up to 10 times for various industries looking to unleash stronger digital productivity."
5.5G Has Become an Industry Consensus and Clear Trend
Yang noted that since 6G is still in its early stage of research, 5.5G is a necessary and natural evolution of 5G, which has become an industry consensus. He believes that the industry must jointly promote 5.5G development in four areas:
- Clear roadmaps for industry standardization: 5.5G standardization has kicked off, with its technical specifications to be defined in 3GPP Releases 18, 19, and 20. 3GPP Release 18 will be frozen in H1 of 2024. F5.5G has progressed from proposals to specification design. Last September, ETSI released its F5G Advanced White Paper, which has been leading the formulation of F5.5G's first release, Release 3, which will be frozen in H1 of 2024. IETF and the IEEE have begun working on the first phase of Net5.5G standardization mainly in Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6), Wi-Fi 7, 800GE, and other subjects, with an aim to release the standard in 2024.
- Clear spectrum strategy: Spectrum is fundamental to wireless networks. The 5.5G industry is now promoting sub-100 GHz to support NR via a twofold strategy. First, legacy spectrum will be refarmed to ensure smooth evolution to 5.5G. Second, joint efforts will be made to ensure that large-bandwidth spectrum mmWave and the upper part of 6 GHz (U6GHz) will be allocated to 5.5G.
- Steady implementation of industry consensus: 5.5G has become a common goal in the industry. Leading operators are promoting its standardization and technological verification. Led by the GSMA, industry partners established a 5.5G community at the MWC Barcelona 2023. The World Broadband Association (WBBA), founded in 2022, released its "Next Generation Broadband Roadmap" white paper for F5.5G. The leading analyst and consultancy firm Omdia released its Net5.5G white paper last September to align industry roadmaps for faster commercial progress in technical evolution, application scenarios, and industry ecosystems.
- Smooth evolution for maximized ROI: 5.5G will support key technologies such as spectrum refarming and equipment multimode multiplexing, enabling existing 5G network resources to be integrated on demand for smooth evolution to 5.5G. This will help protect operator investment.
With key technologies maturing and applications successfully verified, the 5.5G era is within reach
According to Yang, due to concerted efforts from the industry, 5.5G has achieved many breakthroughs in key technologies. Multiple operators around the world have successfully verified innovative technologies such as extremely large antenna array (ELAA) and Multi-band Serving Cell (MBSC), making 10 Gbps a reality for 5.5G.
The standardization of 50G PON for F5.5G as next-generation PON by the ITU-T and maturing key technologies, such as uplink and downlink symmetry and multi-band in one, are paving the way for smooth evolution to F5.5G.
The development of 5.5G and F5.5G will drive IP-based upgrades to open up the era of Net5.5G. This era will see continued enhancement of 800GE ultra-broadband, E2E IPv6+, intelligence, security, and latency, bringing operators new capabilities, products, and opportunities to stimulate growth.
5G is now in the fast lane after three years of commercial use. By the end of 2022, global 5G users exceeded 1 billion, gigabit broadband users reached 100 million, and more than 20,000 industry applications were put into use. New immersive services such as XR and holographic communications are maturing, and connection experiences are improving from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps. The explosive growth of IoT applications is a clear trend, with IoT connections in China outnumbering the connections for people in 2022. Digitalization has expanded deep into core production systems, creating more diverse requirements. For example, 1 Gbps uplink is needed to support high-precision industrial vision for AI-based inspection, remote control in mining industries, self-driving, and other services in which 5G is integrated with cloud and AI.
MWC Barcelona 2023 ran from February 27 to March 2 in Barcelona, Spain. Huawei showcased its products and solutions at stand 1H50 in Fira Gran Via Hall 1. Together with global operators, industry professionals, and opinion leaders, we dove into topics such as 5G business success, 5.5G opportunities, green development, digital transformation, and our vision of using the GUIDE business blueprint to lay the foundation for 5.5G and build on the success of 5G for even greater prosperity. For more information, please visit: https://carrier.huawei.com/en/events/mwc2023.
Source: Carl Byoir & Associates