As we wait for 6G to arrive in eight years or so, 5G-Advanced is being touted as the next stepping stone on 5G’s evolutionary path. This week, Huawei announced 5.5G Core, which it says will leverage mobile edge computing (MEC) to shift 5G evolution from “connectivity-based development to full-service enablement.”
So, what exactly is 5.5G Core? In simple terms, Huawei says, it’s an upgrade to the existing 5G network that will enable devices to connect to the internet at much higher speeds than before. For example, Huawei says, network calling will be upgraded from audio and video to UHD, intelligent calling, and then to interactive calling (or “new calling”, as Huawei puts it).
MEC is key to 5.5G Core
Huawei adds that combining 5G with MEC is a key application of 5.5G Core. The company said that MEC will be about “connectivity and computing, which will allow hyper-distribution and full connection of MEC networks.”
5.5 Core will also lead to the development of “new video”, which Huawei says will enable multi-screen social interaction and break through barriers to provide a brand new social-interactive video experience. Collaboration between large TV screens and small- and medium-sized screens will also be possible.
According to Huawei, the telco cloud will be crucial for the enablement of 5.5G Core, as it will provide the necessary foundation for all kinds of services. The company announced that telco cloud infrastructure is adapting to the 5G era by supporting co-deployment of VMs and containers, among others.
Bridge to 6G ecosystem
A panel discussing 5.5G and Intelligent World 2030 at the Huawei MBBF 2022 noted that 5.5G technology will be available in two to three years and last until 2030, at which point 6G is expected to see commercial release.
3GPP Release 18, the necessary specifications for 5G-Advanced (or 5.5G), will be finalized in the first quarter of 2024. Alex Sinclair, CTO at GSMA, believes commercial deployments will begin the same year.
“While 5G will meet the basic coverage and bandwidth needs, 5.5G will be required to support new and innovative use cases and the specific needs of the consumers and enterprises,” said Gao Quanzhong, 5.5G General Manager at Huawei Wireless Network, during the panel discussion. “It will be a bridge technology between 5G and 6G and will provide a downlink speed of 10 Gbps and an uplink speed of 1 Gbps. It will also be able to support 100 billion IoT connections and become natively intelligent,”