Comm­sMEA goes to Lon­don

Comm­sMEA went to Huawei’s 5G-fo­cused Global MBB Fo­rum in Lon­don. From in­ter­est­ing use cases to in­trigu­ing pre­sen­ta­tions to world-firsts, it’s pretty clear 5G isn’t just for the fu­ture – it’s here.

Comms MEA - - Contents -

We vis­ited the Bri­tish cap­i­tal to take in Huawei’s Global MBB Fo­rum. Here’s

what we learned.

5 G-con­nected lux­ury cars favoured by fa­mous fic­tional Bri­tish spies. Video games as re­al­is­tic as real life you can play on your phone but have beamed onto a TV screen with no wires or de­lay what­so­ever. Mo­bile ser­vices be­ing brought to some of the world’s most re­mote re­gions. Vir­tual tours of holy sites so pil­grims who can’t phys­i­cally be there can still visit. The world’s first live 5G sports broad­cast.

Those were just some of the ex­cit­ing, sci­ence fic­tion-sound­ing, yet real-life tech­nolo­gies on dis­play as Huawei’s 2018 Global MBB Fo­rum. Held at Ex­Cel Lon­don in the Bri­tish cap­i­tal, the ninth edi­tion of the an­nual event brought to­gether Huawei cus­tomers, po­ten­tial cus­tomers, and of course me­dia to present a dizzy­ing ar­ray of real-world case stud­ies for how 5G is cur­rently be­ing im­ple­mented – and dis­cuss how it will soon be im­ple­mented on a larger scale around the world, in­clud­ing in the Mid­dle East and Africa.

Things kicked off just af­ter 9 a.m. lo­cal time on day one with a key­note speech by Ken Hu, deputy and ro­tat­ing chair­per­son of Huawei. Wear­ing an icy pink-coloured tie and dark navy suit, he spoke to a crowd of hun­dreds of sim­i­larly dressed at­ten­dees in front of a mas­sive video screen that ap­peared to mea­sure about 20 me­tres across, and upon which slick graph­ics were dis­played to il­lus­trate and em­pha­sise key points.

In his speech, Hu stressed the im­por­tance 5G was al­ready play­ing in shap­ing the fu­ture of not only busi­ness, but hu­man­ity, adding Huawei has been work­ing on 5G for more than 10 years. “We be­lieve 5G will make a big con­tri­bu­tion to our so­ci­ety.”

Hu also said 5G was lead­ing to the in­te­gra­tion of pre­vi­ously sep­a­rate tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices not un­like in­di­vid­ual pieces of Lego bricks be­ing com­bined to make some­thing larger – fun­da­men­tally chang­ing the def­i­ni­tion of what a telco or tech­nol­ogy com­pany is. The user ex­pe­ri­ence will be re­de­fined by 5G.”

Hu’s speech was fol­lowed by an ad­dress from Mats Gran­ryd, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Global Sys­tem for Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, bet­ter known as the GSMA. Like Hu, Gran­ryd also dis­cussed the po­ten­tial of 5G to drive in­clu­sion, growth and sus­tain­able devel­op­ment, es­pe­cially in the de­vel­op­ing world. He also touched on the im­pact of “smart” ca­pa­bil­i­ties like ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and net­work ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and how such net­works and tech­nolo­gies must be se­cure to drive the growth not only of smart cities, but all cities. He said in­tel­li­gent man­age­ment will be key with “the devel­op­ment of a rich and vi­brant dig­i­tal econ­omy.”

An­other speaker was China Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Cor­po­ra­tion (more com­monly known as China Tele­com) ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Liu Guiqing. For 5G to truly be trans­for­ma­tive and im­prove peo­ple’s lives, he said, com­pa­nies will need to work to­gether and col­lab­o­rate – even if they’ve tra­di­tion­ally been ri­vals.

The idea of col­lab­o­ra­tion and in­te­gra­tions were also fo­cal points of Bri­tish Tele­com (BT) group CTIO Howard Wat­son’s pre­sen­ta­tion. He said: “The fu­ture is how mul­ti­ple-ac­cess tech­nolo­gies like WiFi and broad­band can come to­gether.”

Other key­note speak­ers in­cluded South Africa-based telco MTN group CTIO Babak Fouladi (one stand­out quote from him: “The great­est so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity for us is con­nect­ing the un­con­nected), Swiss telco Sun­rise CEO Olaf Swan­tee, 3UK CEO David Dyson, and David Wang, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the board and chair of the In­vest­ment Re­view Board at Huawei.

Not just talk

There was far more to the event than just pol­ished speeches and slick pre­sen­ta­tions. Out­side the main pre­sen­ta­tion halls, a num­ber of booths show­cased both Huawei tech­nolo­gies and tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices from Huawei part­ners. A “5G bus” drove peo­ple around the sur­round­ing Dock­lands area. The demo drive showed that 5G con­nec­tions, down­load speeds and more could all be achieved while phys­i­cally mov­ing across large dis­tances at a high speed and in poor weather (this be­ing Lon­don, it was fit­tingly rainy, windy and cold). Tents erected out­side Ex­Cel Lon­don were also stuffed with 5G use case demon­stra­tions.

Then there were the spe­cial sum­mits and

round­tables. One sum­mit fo­cused on con­nect­ing un­con­nected pop­u­la­tions in Africa, with in-depth anal­y­sis and dis­cus­sion of a case study be­tween Huawei and MTN Ghana and the GSMA on strate­gies for con­nect­ing pop­u­la­tions, es­pe­cially those in ru­ral and/or in im­pov­er­ished ar­eas (one key chal­lenge dis­cussed: the lack of af­ford­able smart­phones).

A me­dia round­table on “Pre­par­ing for a Cloud AR/VR Fu­ture” with Huawei Wire­less So­lu­tion CMO Dr Yue­feng Zhou and GSMA se­nior di­rec­tor and head of Fu­ture Net­works Henry Justin Calvert – held the same day as the launch of a Huawei whitepa­per on the cloud – cov­ered how cloud tech­nolo­gies could en­able AR/VR ap­pli­ca­tions and gam­ing, while also touch­ing on the chal­lenges of uni­fy­ing net­works and busi­ness plans (such as dif­fer­ent busi­nesses hav­ing dif­fer­ent tar­gets for the la­tency, or de­lay, pe­riod of their con­nec­tions). And there were many more events on top of those.

Use cases ga­lore

The fi­nal day of the event started with a pre­sen­ta­tion by Ryan Ding, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the board and pres­i­dent of Huawei’s Car­rier Busi­ness Group. Wear­ing a navy suit and laven­der tie, he spoke of how 5G is al­ready driv­ing in­no­va­tion in the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion. As an ex­am­ple, he dis­cussed part­ner­ing with Emi­rati telco Eti­salat for 5G in Dubai, as well as no fewer than five sep­a­rate 5G com­mer­cial agree­ments with Mid­dle East tel­cos, and 22 5G agree­ments world­wide.

He said: “This is the start of a new era of ICT.” Ding also dis­cussed the chal­lenges mas­sive in­creases in data con­sump­tion will cre­ate for net­works. Ac­cord­ing to Ding, the av­er­age per­son around the world is ex­pected to con­sume about 30GB of data per month by 2025 – 15 times 2017’s av­er­age data con­sump­tion rate of about 2GB per month.

Then there was his dis­cus­sion about the im­por­tance of de­vel­op­ing sus­tain­able tech­nolo­gies so less power is con­sumed and en­vi­ron­men­tal harm re­duced. He cited as an ex­am­ple a part­ner­ship in Mo­rocco with telco INWI to re­duce power con­sump­tion by 15-19%.

Ding’s speech was fol­lowed by one from Cana­dian telco Bell’s CTO Stephen Howe. Af­ter be­gin­ning by speak­ing in Man­darin (which drew thun­der­ous ap­plause) and thank­ing Huawei for be­ing able to come to Lon­don, he also dis­cussed the im­por­tance and chal­lenges of bring­ing mo­bile ser­vices to peo­ple in re­mote ar­eas; par­tic­u­larly in the form of build­ing cell tow­ers in iso­lated, far north­ern Canada, where tem­per­a­tures are of­ten far be­low freez­ing and there are few build­ing ma­te­ri­als avail­able (a project Bell has been able to make progress in, Howe said, thanks to help from none other than Swedish fur­ni­ture com­pany IKEA).

Ar­naud Vam­parys, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for ra­dio net­works at Orange Group, was a third speaker fo­cus­ing on the im­por­tance of dig­i­tal in­clu­sion and reach­ing more peo­ple to cre­ate a more equal world – in this case, reach­ing more peo­ple in Africa. As with the pre­vi­ous day, the key­note ad­dresses fea­tured slick graph­ics dis­played on an enor­mous video screen, pre­sented to an au­di­ence of hun­dreds of Huawei part­ners, po­ten­tial part­ners, and me­dia from around the world. Out­side the main hall used for the

We be­lieve 5G will make a big con­tri­bu­tion to our so­ci­ety.”


Ken Hu, deputy and ro­tat­ing chair­per­son of Huawei

ad­dresses, a va­ri­ety of part­ners – in­clud­ing Mid­dle East tel­cos such as STC – show­cased their part­ner­ships and in­no­va­tions.

STC’s stand was full of par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing in­no­va­tions – in par­tic­u­lar, ex­am­ples of how it has al­ready been us­ing 5G tech­nol­ogy. Some of those ex­am­ples in­cluded VR tours to al­low pil­grims to visit the Al-Haram Mosque (Great Mosque) of Mecca and the sa­cred Kaaba with­out hav­ing to be phys­i­cally present, re­mote op­er­a­tion on off­shore oil plat­forms to re­duce the need for hu­mans to do dan­ger­ous jobs, and “smart hel­mets” that can let peo­ple of low vi­sion “see” by send­ing real-time up­dates about ob­struc­tions and pro­vid­ing data about what is around them. Com­pany of­fi­cials also dis­cussed how STC plans to have 50% of all of Saudi Ara­bia cov­ered by 5G ser­vices by 2020.

But many of the stands and booths also show­cased Huawei’s own tech­nolo­gies and ser­vices. For in­stance, as the crowds popped by at a rather steady clip, there was Cloud X, which Huawei staff ex­plained could use 5G to al­low for things such as play­ing very graph­i­cally pow­er­ful, re­al­is­tic video games on a phone, with the phone’s screen ac­tu­ally be­ing dis­played on a

TV – and all with­out a de­lay (la­tency) pe­riod or con­cerns about load­ing time or hav­ing enough free space for data stor­age gen­er­ated by the game’s im­mer­sive graph­ics. There was also a 5Gen­abled, white-coloured Porsche car, an en­tire booth ded­i­cated to show­ing how Huawei 5G ser­vices will be used at the new Is­tan­bul Air­port in Tur­key (which opened in Oc­to­ber, and with a planned ca­pac­ity of about 150 mil­lion pas­sen­gers per year), full-size repli­cas of an­ten­nas be­ing used to pro­vide con­nec­tiv­ity in ru­ral ar­eas of coun­tries like Saudi Ara­bia, Ghana, Nige­ria and So­ma­lia, and much, much more.

World-firsts and pro­found change

Speak­ing of 5G and au­to­mo­biles, the vice pres­i­dent and CMO of lux­ury car­maker As­ton Martin (the car brand for­ever as­so­ci­ated with James Bond), Si­mon Sproule, gave a fas­ci­nat­ing key­note ad­dress on how 5G is trans­form­ing trans­porta­tion. Be­yond sim­ply con­nected ve­hi­cles, Sproule said new tech­nol­ogy meant things such as side­view (wing) mir­rors could be re­placed with cam­eras in­stead – fun­da­men­tally chang­ing car de­sign. He said: “I have never seen such a pe­riod of pro­found change.”

Sproule also said As­ton Martin was plan­ning to be­come the world’s first all-elec­tric lux­ury vehicle man­u­fac­turer – with help from Huawei.

The Global MBB Fo­rum also fea­tured a world­first: the world’s first live 5G sports broad­cast. Car­ried by BT Sport, the broad­cast was beamed in live in front of an au­di­ence of sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple from Lon­don’s Wem­b­ley Sta­dium, and fea­tured a dis­cus­sion on the role 5G could play in mak­ing peo­ple feel closer to their favourite sports teams and play­ers than ever be­fore – which could, in turn, pro­vide bet­ter en­ter­tain­ment value.

If the live 5G sports broad­cast wasn’t enough, there was also a panel dis­cus­sion on “The 5G City.” Fea­tur­ing high-rank­ing ex­ec­u­tives from five telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions op­er­a­tors (Elisa, Telus, Tele­fon­ica, BT Tech­nol­ogy and Orange Spain) and one an­a­lyst, the panel was about how 5G can help with – and cur­rently is – en­abling smart cities devel­op­ment all over the world.

Huawei Wire­less Solutions pres­i­dent Ed­ward Deng was the event’s fi­nal key­note speaker – and nicely summed up what the pre­vi­ous two days were all about – and where things could go next. “Huawei is about in­no­va­tion.”

Oh, and he also promised the tenth edi­tion of the Global MBB Fo­rum – to be held n 2019 – would be even big­ger, and held at an even fancier venue. See­ing as how the 2018 edi­tion went, how­ever, it’ll likely be pretty tough to top.

Ex­Cel Lon­don, where Huawei's Global MBBFo­rum took place.

Huawei's 5G-con­nected bus that drove vis­i­torsaround Lon­don.

Watch­ing the world'sfirst live 5G sports broad­cast on day two.

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