Huawei’s Guide to a Digital Future

Company outlines a holistic business blueprint for networks

Digitalization is advancing rapidly. Industrial processes, entertainment and commerce are all becoming more and more efficient and data-driven, and services are increasingly customizable and with an emphasis on the customer experience. The pursuit of new uses for technology, superior experiences and greater digital possibilities is driving the IT industry forward — but this vision comes with new complexities, particularly when building networks.

As more industries go digital, IT infrastructure needs to be rebuilt with closer integration between cloud, edge and communications networks. This is a huge challenge for telecom operators; the cloud-native, software-centric, distributed and sustainable networks we need for the future look less and less like those of the past. New network technology platforms such as 5G need to deliver a formidable list of performance demands, offering high capacity and ultralow latency and being operationally flexible, efficient, intelligent and most importantly, cost-effective.

This is where networking equipment manufacturer Huawei steps in; it has been looking to help operators to manage this complexity, digitalize their networks and create new revenue streams. In 2021, it launched a model for operators based on the competitive capabilities Huawei believes they need, including expansion, efficiency and publicly contributing to societal good. The model promoted an evolution in the network, from the core to transport and radio access, as a means of building faster, smarter, greener and more automated networks. At MWC 2022, Huawei redefined the principles of the model, which it refers to as GUIDE, as follows:

  • Gigaverse Initiative: offering ubiquitous multigigabit connectivity and digitalization, blending personal and professional requirements in an always-on environment.
  • Ultra-Automation Speed-Up: speeding up use of automation to reconstruct operations maintenance and address uncertainties. This involves using agile digital operations and technologies such as artificial intelligence to rethink network operations.
  • Intelligent Computing and Network as a Service: providing new benefits of collaboration through digital networks that are demand-centric, resource-orchestrated, value-bundled and adaptive.
  • Differentiated Experience On-Demand: diversifying experiences and revenue generation. This encompasses tailored user experiences for a range of digital industries, moving toward customized experiences that are driven by service-level agreements for different uses.
  • ESG More Bits, Less Watts: using a green IT architecture approach formed of three layers — the site, network and operations and management — to achieve a positive societal impact through energy-efficient networks.

The GUIDE model outlines the evolution to future network infrastructure, from the core to transport and radio access, and is targeted at supporting these competitive capabilities. In concept, this is a technology-driven model for building faster, smarter, greener and more automated networks. It integrates digital transformation technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and edge and cloud computing.

At MWC 2022 in Barcelona, Huawei redefined GUIDE as a three-dimensional blueprint for business development to horizons of 2025 and 2030, based on three drivers of digital transformation: business, technology and social responsibility.

This is a more holistic approach from Huawei, intended to foster closer partnerships with its operator customers. As an integrated network equipment manufacturer, Huawei typically works with service providers to design, build and operate telecom networks. But with GUIDE, the company now intends to act as a more strategic partner, offering digital technology solutions as well as a consultative perspective on business transformation and the societal role of IT. This includes a set of key performance indicators for operators to evaluate their digitalization journey against short- and long-term goals.

The GUIDE model proposes a three-phase evolution with targets along the way — a long-term road map rather than a short-term solution. The principle is that GUIDE is adaptable to individual operators. For example, customers in developing regions could focus in the short term on targets appropriate to their local conditions. In terms of the gigabit initiative, this might mean that if 5G spectrum isn’t available, the operator can use 5G-ready 4.5G spectrum before moving to the next phase, knowing the network already meets upgrade requirements.

The three phases for each element are as follows:

Network characteristic Phases
Gigaverse Initiative 1.”Peak Gbps”

2.”Gbps per user”

3.”x Gbps per user”

Ultra-Automation Speed-Up 1.”Autonomous driving network” (ADN) level 1

2. ADN level 3

3. ADN; level 5

Intelligent Computing and Network as a Service 1. Value-bundled products

2. Resource-orchestrated solutions

3. Demand-centric services

Differentiated Experience On-Demand 1. Best-effort experience

2. Guaranteed experience

3. On-demand experience

ESG — More Bits, Less Watts 1. Network Carbon Intensity* of 120

2. Network Carbon Intensity* of 80

3. Network Carbon Intensity* of 40

Note: Huawei devised and proposed the Network Carbon Intensity index in 2021, to rate operator carbon emissions in terms of kg of carbon emissions generated per terabyte of data traffic.

The redefined GUIDE blueprint entails Huawei becoming more aligned with its operator customers, supporting them in the long-term evolution of their networks as they digitalize, launch new services and develop new business models. This suggests a novel approach from the company, one where it seeks to be more attuned to the complex, service-centric evolutionary journey that operators find themselves on.

It’s too early to tell how this approach will resonate with operators, but as an early sign, Huawei has announced adoption of its blueprint by Saudi Arabian operator Zain. Under the agreement, Zain will work with Huawei to explore and define a “GUIDE to the Future Network”. Zain has said that this partnership will focus on enhancing its cloud-network infrastructure to deliver gigabit speeds and differentiated service experiences as well as reducing carbon emissions.

As a broad formula for digital development, GUIDE positions Huawei as a more solutions-driven technology provider, working in collaboration with other manufacturers, developers and integrators. To meet the complex demands of future networks and drive adoption of digital technologies, this more holistic approach marks a subtle — but necessary — evolution of the technology and business solutions provider.