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Pioneering the Future: Huawei’s Journey From 5G to 5.5G and the RedCap Revolution
October 16, 2023 News


Written by: Izzat Najmi Abdullah, Journalist, AOPG.

Huawei’s vision extends beyond the present, setting its sights on the imminent launch of a comprehensive suite of commercial 5.5G network equipment in 2024. This strategic move underscores the company’s desire to expand its already impressive product portfolio while embracing the global shift towards 5.5G.

As Cao Ming, President of Wireless Solutions at Huawei, pointed out in his speech, 5.5G is already “in the phase of accelerated commercialisation around the world.” In fact, industry players have already launched chipsets and equipment for 5.5G, with nearly 20 countries worldwide having prepared the necessary spectrum for this new era of connectivity.

Cao Ming, President of Wireless Solutions at Huawei

The implications of this transition are profound, as 5.5G promises to be a significant step forward for traditional sectors. It will, for one, further enhance productivity and facilitate digital transformation across a wide array of industries.

Over the past four years, Huawei has been at the forefront of 5G network deployment worldwide, providing connectivity to nearly half of the world’s population through the establishment of over 260 5G networks. With the introduction of 5G coverage four years ago in China, the network has expanded at an impressive rate. As of May, the country boasts more than 2.8 million 5G base stations, with Huawei playing a significant role in this transformation. In fact, the Shenzhen-based tech giant recently secured 52% of China Mobile’s 5G base station work from 2023 to 2024, in its attempt to boost the 5G network.

The RedCap Revolution: A New Era of 5G IoT

Kicking off Huawei’s visionary foray into 5.5G, Day 2 of the Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) 2023 commenced with a showcase of groundbreaking RedCap technology, marking a milestone in the RedCap sector and signalling the technology’s successful adoption on a global scale.

RedCap technology, in fact, is swiftly becoming the cornerstone of digital connectivity, with more than 10 carriers from over 7 countries already engaged in commercial RedCap pilot programmes. These initiatives are poised to connect over 100 million users over the next three years, ushering in a new era of 5G applications.

Global RedCap Commercial Achievement Release Ceremony

At the heart of this achievement is the Global RedCap Commercial Achievement Release Ceremony, which, in alignment with 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 17 standards, firmly established RedCap as a lightweight 5G technology. It offers a cost-effective solution that strikes a harmonious balance between cost and performance across multiple industries. In fact, RedCap shines whether in manufacturing, electric power, home broadband, Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication, or smart wearables. RedCap modules, with their affordable price tags starting as low as USD $10, are an astonishing 80% more economical than their 5G eMBB counterparts.

Beyond cost-efficiency, RedCap offers an impressive tenfold increase in network capacity compared to 4G while consuming 20% less power. This versatile technology can seamlessly support key 5G features like Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC), network slicing, edge computing, and 5G Local Area Network (LAN), making it an ideal solution for diverse industrial applications.

The MBBF served as a platform for industry leaders, global carriers, industry clients, and device and module vendors to explore the deployment of RedCap networks, discuss ecosystem development, and examine potential applications.

During a keynote address, Ding Xin, Vice President of TD Tech, also shared insights into the RedCap industry’s progress and its pivotal role in shaping the future of cellular IoT through innovative 5G capabilities.

The 5G Industry Summit was another highlight, where Huawei, in collaboration with Chinese giants like China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, unveiled a series of RedCap achievements. These achievements include the successful completion of end-to-end commercial deployments of RedCap in over ten cities in China, spanning diverse industries, including manufacturing, electric power, and V2X applications. These initiatives are poised to serve as benchmarks for the broader adoption of commercial RedCap technology.

Beyond China, leading global carriers—including e& in the UAE, STC in Saudi Arabia, Zain KSA, STC Kuwait, Zain Kuwait, STC Bahrain, and AIS in Thailand—have either completed technical verification or initiated commercial pilot programmes for RedCap, further validating the technology’s robust capabilities and potential.

The comprehensive RedCap ecosystem, featuring Huawei and industry partners such as Lierda, Aumiwalker, Hangzhou For-X, and Hongdian, showcased a wide range of products, including RedCap modules, Data Terminal Units (DTUs), and Customer Premises Equipment (CPEs). By the end of 2023, more than 50 industry-specific devices are expected to be introduced, expediting the deployment of RedCap applications and expanding its user base.

Needless to say, Huawei’s vision for the future spans not only the transition to 5.5G but also the pioneering advances of RedCap technology. The company is steadfast in its commitment to collaborate with global carriers, industry clients, and device and module vendors to ensure the widespread deployment of RedCap networks and the diversification of applications.

This dedication is poised to create a thriving ecosystem, revitalising the 5G industry and infusing fresh momentum into the mobile economy. This then ensures an exciting and dynamic future for technology and connectivity.

The journey continues, and the possibilities are boundless.