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Huawei unveils transformative 5G innovations at MWC Shanghai, ushering in a new era of connectivity

Asia’s leading mobile technology event, Mobile World Congress Shanghai — held in-person from June 28-30, 2023, for the first time since the global pandemic has ebbed — showcased the impact of 5G networks on global businesses. This fourth anniversary of commercial 5G adoption offered a chance for operators and vendors alike to reflect on the benefits of the latest network technology and what’s needed for broader 5G adoption. Already, 5G has spurred a technological transformation affecting the operations of many industries, especially those saddled with legacy technology such as ports, mining and manufacturing while 5G networks sparked gains in efficiency and productivity, revitalizing their businesses. Even as over 1.2 billion users rely on 5G networks, some feel that the technology has been over-hyped. For instance, Shira Ovide, writing for the Washington Post in June 2023, called claims about 5G’s benefits for retail customers “mostly hot air.”

Learning from 4G’s history

However, that analysis overlooks downstream effects of the technology’s applications within industries and enterprises. To understand the impact of 5G networks on the global economy — including retail customers — it’s worth revisiting how the advent of 4G networks changed the trajectory of technological development. 4G’s benefits accrued from improvements in the speed and capacity of network coverage which created a platform on which the next generation of apps and services could be built. That speed boost enabled a shift in social media use from desktop to mobile, the creation of rideshare apps as well as others boosting the emergence of the digital economy such as holiday home rentals and made content streaming and videoconferencing more accessible. Investment in the development of 4G created new digitally-based industries and drove economic growth, delivering real, obvious gains for consumers. The benefits of 5G become clear when looking at industries adopting this technology, revealing the many ways it is creating a new platform for innovation.

5G applications extend far beyond consumers

5G’s applications in industry and enterprise settings can involve not only wireless technology but also artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and data centers – think about autonomous driving, wireless connections of automated equipment, virtual reality and so on.

This is where Huawei’s 5GtoB solutions come into play by allowing for bespoke offerings based on unique scenarios with options for network planning, construction, maintenance and optimization. At the same time, the 5GtoB App Engine enables developers to build business tools which fully capitalize on the potential of 5G while the company’s Enterprise Business works with carriers and partners to develop tailored solutions to digitize their operations. To smooth the process, Huawei deploys integrated teams to focus on industry-specific needs. Take mining, for example. Laboring in mines is traditionally a dangerous proposition for workers. Working underground coupled with hazardous air quality, heavy machinery and the risk of injury or worse all create unhealthy and dangerous conditions but widely deployed 5G technology can change that. Real-time 5G connections let operators above ground control machinery below, so that fewer workers need to venture underground. As a result, employees can trade their protective clothing and gear for suits and ties, because the machinery can now be operated comfortably from a desk in places such as mines and even ports which are also being digitized and automated. For those who must venture below ground, 5G-enabled video cameras scan the face of a coal mine for any signs of imminent collapse. These deadly events have been a dreaded feature of mining from Virginia in the U.S. to China. Now, with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) that can see through the dust and flying fragments to detect fissures, cracks or other signs of trouble; potential dangers to workers can be addressed before they become critical. For instance, a partnership between Huawei and Shaanxi Coal Industry Co. mines installed sensors that can deliver real-time data about dangerous gas levels and instability in mine tunnels, to alert control centers above ground as needed to ensure worker safety. Ports also present their own unique worker hazards, whether climbing into tall cranes or interacting with heavy shipping containers. For example, 5G network technology in Tianjin, China, leverages Huawei’s 5GtoB solutions for remote operators. Higher network speeds allow for more efficient operations that yield meaningful results for port operator’s bottom lines, while consumers benefit by receiving goods faster. In the manufacturing sector, companies are seeing a significant transformation in operations, as digitalization increases production capacity. A factory in Jingzhou, China, operated by Midea Group, became the world’s first fully 5G-connected electrical appliance factory. Powered by advanced mobile solutions from China Mobile and Huawei, production line capacity significantly increased — reducing inventory needs and delivering savings which can be passed on to consumers. As data volume requirements for operating modern businesses rise, 5G networks’ efficiency can be both more cost-efficient and require less energy. 5G networks are changing operations in unexpected areas as well. For the East-West Gate railway terminal project in Hungary — the first application of 5G in the European railway industry — the technology’s high bandwidth and low latency has greatly improved the efficiency of container loading and unloading, enhancing the work environment of bridge crane operators. 4G networks weren’t built overnight and the full potential of 5GtoB has yet to be realized. It’s still early days. The coming 5.5G era will increase network capabilities by another order of magnitude, up to 10 Gbps with millisecond-level latency. Yet companies that have invested in this next-generation infrastructure are already reaping the rewards. And retail customers will, too.

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