At its annual conference for industry analysts in Shenzhen in April 2019, Huawei touted full-year 2018 revenue growth of nearly 20% surpassing $100 billion for the first time. Growth was driven by their consumer and enterprise groups while the carrier (or service provider) division contracted by 2% versus 2017. However, they expect double-digit growth from their carrier business in 2019.
Of course, the very public geo-political issues surrounding network security were addressed and were described as short-term challenges. Huawei’s view is that the industry needs Huawei’s scale and innovation to fuel continual technological advancement and market presence to keep equipment and services affordable. They contend that countries who exclude Huawei from their networks for no apparent reason can expect to pay more and will be less competitive as a result.
Here are some additional key points from the Day 1 keynotes:
Fully connected intelligent world is coming faster than expected and we are entering a “Zero-search” world where your needs are largely anticipated via AI and ML systems and algorithms.
Huawei projects that in 2025, 5G will cover 58% of the population, have 2.3 billion users, and will be supported by 6.5 million base stations.
5G is a connectivity platform, not a pipe: all online, all cloud, refined devices, seamless experience
5G will trigger a tipping point for VR/AR in 2019 as some of the barriers fall: expensive devices, heavy headsets, dizziness associated with usage
AI is accelerating cloud adoption. Two main challenges for AI: (1) computing power (Huawei developed their own chipsets, the Ascend 310 and 910 and (2) application development, Huawei has developed their “Model Arts” development platform which is sold as-a-service on Huawei’s cloud.
Huawei is shifting some resources from innovation to invention. The industry is pushing the boundaries of Shannon’s Limit and Moore’s Law thus, long-term, new theoretical breakthroughs are needed.
Therefore, Huawei is committed to shifting some of its resources to basic research in physics, chemistry, math, and materials science.
DNA data storage will push the limits of storage capacity.
Atoms-to-products concept will become a reality and Huawei is investing in atomic-scale manufacturing. Huawei’s Institute for Strategic Research will tackle quantum and optical computing to challenge Moore’s Law.
On the second day, Huawei hosted an afternoon session that focused on core networks. Here are some key takeaways:
Cloud native architecture brings high reliability and agility. Cloud native involves a stateless network function supporting micro-services with control and user plan separation (CUPS). Containers are the best computing platforms for cloud-native network functions.
Mobile edge computing (MEC) is critical for 5G use-cases as the distributed user-plane is important for throughput, latency, and to optimize backhaul costs. Edge computing will be a key differentiator for operators versus OTTs because operators have backhaul and central-office locations. Optimal computing performance for MEC requires heterogenous hardware (CPUs, GPUs, AI, Cache, Disk, Flash) not COTS hardware.
Automation is the key to handling the scale associated with managing and optimizing 5G networks and to simplify operations.
Voice evolution to 5G and VoNR: IMS and VoLTE are the foundations for voice services under all 5G deployment scenarios. Existing IMS networks will need software upgrades to handle the new 5G core network interfaces, but functionally should remain essentially the same.
In all, another thoughtful and valuable analyst conference. Huawei viewed the geopolitical security issues surrounding the company as a short-term wave that they must ride as they continue to push forward. As the industry leader in telecom networks, they were clear about how they were investing in all aspects of the 5G, Cloud, IoT, and AI ecosystems and these investments are complementary.