2020 has been a very eventful year. ICT infrastructure, especially connectivity, has played a key role in the fight against COVID-19 and in promoting sustainable development. Today, I’d like to talk about connectivity.
Huawei’s Vision and Mission
Three years ago, Huawei released its new vision and mission: Bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.
In the consumer domain, we’re committed to creating a Seamless AI Life across all scenarios based on our “1 + 8 + N” strategy, and bringing every person to the intelligent world.
What I want to look at today is how we make every company a part of the intelligent world. At this year’s event, we aim to build industry Intelligent Twins to help companies move towards the intelligent world.
Intelligent connectivity is like the body of the Intelligent Twin, connecting the “brain” and “limbs”
At Huawei Connect, we launched the reference architecture for Intelligent Twins. Intelligent connectivity is one of the four key parts of the architecture. If we compare Intelligent Twins to a person, then intelligent connectivity is the body that connects the brain and limbs.
How important is intelligent connectivity to Intelligent Twins? Consider the African elephant. Each human brain has 86 billion neurons, but the brain of an African elephant is made up of 250 billion neurons. And yet, a human being can outsmart an African elephant. Why is this? Because the neurons of human brains are strongly connected. Each neuron can be divided into over 8,000 synapses, and is strongly connected to the limbs through the body. In the same way, it isn’t mere computing power, but strong connectivity that makes Intelligent Twins smarter.
What new demands do Intelligent Twins place on connectivity?
Intelligent Twins Call for New Connectivity
There are three types of connectivity scenarios for Intelligent Twins. One is connectivity within the intelligent hub, such as the connection of AI cluster servers and cloud data centers. The second is connectivity between the intelligent hub and intelligent interaction devices; connecting the “brain” and the “limbs”. The last type is connectivity between intelligent interaction devices, such as the connection of AI cameras, 4K drones, and robotic arms.
In real-world scenarios, we have noticed several typical requirements for connectivity. Meteorological image splicing, for example, requires accurate short-range weather forecast for the next four hours. To do this, we need to send massive quantities of meteorological images recorded by HD cameras back to the cloud for AI analysis. These huge datasets require coordination between multiple distributed data centers, making high bandwidth and zero packet loss essential.
Another example is Shanghai Hongqiao railway station. A high-speed train departs every 84 seconds, the highest departure rate of any station in China. To make this work, the railway station needs very reliable networks to connect the control signal system.
Overall, Intelligent Twins have five major requirements for connectivity:
- High reliability
- Zero packet loss
- Differentiated services
- Real-time high bandwidth
- Smart O&M
Connectivity Is Productivity
As connectivity is becoming increasingly important, higher bandwidth, lower latency, and thinner network slices will create value. In a third-party report on Wall Street financial transactions, we noticed that each millisecond decrease in latency can generate US$1 million of revenue.
According to the statistics of one large OTT player’s cloud data center, a packet loss rate of 0.1% will cause AI compute performance to deteriorate by 50%.
For the past 40 years, we’ve used Metcalfe’s law to explain the value of connectivity: A network’s value is proportional to the square of the number of nodes in the network. I hope Mr. Metcalfe doesn’t mind if we now add a few new variables – bandwidth, latency, and network slicing – to Metcalfe’s law to redefine the value of connectivity. When we put this new Metcalfe’s law to work, we find that the quality of connectivity has become a factor of production. Today, connectivity is productivity.
Moving Towards Intelligent Connectivity with AI
We believe intelligent connectivity has three major characteristics: ubiquitous gigabit, deterministic experience, and hyper-automation.
The first characteristic is ubiquitous gigabit. Bandwidth is the basis of connectivity. Ubiquitous gigabit connectivity is needed for ultra-HD AI cameras, drones, industrial cameras, and industrial VR/AR applications.
The second characteristic is deterministic experience. Connectivity for Intelligent Twins mainly targets things and production scenarios. For example, during peak times in 2019, one airplane was departing or arriving in Shenzhen Airport every minute or less, and this is only possible when real-time connectivity is guaranteed. Electric power companies guarantee “six nines”, or even higher reliability and less than two minutes of power outage per household annually. Without deterministic connectivity, companies will not be able to guarantee security and reliability.
The last characteristic is hyper-automation. As industries become intelligent, the scale and complexity of networks will multiply. One customer’s network report states that it will see 100 times denser connections and 10,000 more parameters following the application of 5G and other new technologies. Hyper-automation means using big data and AI to handle all complexities with intelligence.
Building City Intelligent Twins with Intelligent Connectivity
First, let’s see how intelligent connectivity can help build City Intelligent Twins.
Smart cities are built around five priorities: government services, social governance, public services, ecology, and industrial parks. To realize comprehensive city governance, cities need to monitor roads, waterways, bridges, and pipelines in real time, and align surveillance videos of different government departments.
There are two key points in building City Intelligent Twins: the intelligent connection of everything and connection of intelligent things.
To connect everything with intelligence, an industrial park in Suzhou connected all of its surveillance drones and HD cameras through 5G and F5G networks. With real-time, high bandwidth connectivity, the industrial park converged over 5,000 surveillance cameras and over 13,000 IoT sensors, laying a social foundation for building a smart city.
To connect all intelligent things, a municipal government in Guangdong introduced IPv6+ to better connect the data centers of different departments, enabling fast surveillance video access across different districts and departments.
Intelligent connectivity will help build City Intelligent Twins, bringing intelligence to every corner of our cities and significantly benefiting society.
Building Transportation Intelligent Twins with Intelligent Connectivity
The second example is how intelligent connectivity helps build Transportation Intelligent Twins.
The intelligent upgrade of airports must take into account passengers, freight, and aircraft. In terms of passengers, our aim is to improve their travel experience. Due to the high density and frequent mobility of passengers, airports stand to benefit from using Wi-Fi 6 to build a full coverage network that connects all passenger touch points, from check-in and waiting to boarding, so as to deliver a better travel experience.
When applied to aircraft, low latency and high reliability connectivity will make flights safer and more efficient. For example, we are currently piloting 5G smart airfield ground lights in some airports. With real-time, low-latency connectivity, these tens of thousands of airfield ground lights can guide and support more efficient aircraft taxiing. In addition, patrol cars can use 5G to upload 4K surveillance images and videos, enabling real-time monitoring and accurate review at airports. This will increase the efficiency of event handling and establish a comprehensive security protection system at airports.
As digital transformation goes deeper, the network systems of airports will become increasingly complex. Some airports even have seven or more networks, including office, communications, departure, and security networks. Traditional networks cannot guarantee accurate O&M and at the same time increase service efficiency. But Huawei’s autonomous driving network (ADN) solutions can do both at once by providing automated O&M while ensuring stable service operations.
Wi-Fi 6, 5G, and ADN are the three keys to building Transportation Intelligent Twins.
Building Finance Intelligent Twins with Intelligent Connectivity
Finally, let’s have a look at how Intelligent Twins can be used in finance.
The financial sector is a leader in terms of intelligent upgrades. Intelligent financial services have become a part of people’s everyday lives. By creating user profiles, banks can optimize financial service experience for customers through precision marketing and intelligent risk control. To do this, banks need to accurately identify user parameters across thousands of dimensions, and AI compute is vital for this. In data center networks, a packet loss rate of 0.1% will cause AI compute performance to deteriorate by 50%. This suggests that the quality of connectivity is a bottleneck for the growth of AI compute. Huawei’s intelligent IP networks ensure that data center networks achieve zero packet loss, allowing the full potential of AI compute to be unleashed.
Meanwhile, bank branches are also upgrading by replacing manual labor with large amounts of intelligent devices. Their demands for bandwidth are outpacing the development of traditional private lines. High bandwidth, low latency 5G networks can support the intelligent upgrade of branches.
Network architecture is becoming more and more complex due to an increased demand for bandwidth and more diverse applications, calling for AI-enabled smart O&M. Huawei ADN solutions deliver smart O&M performance that can be summed up as “1-3-5”: fault detection in 1 minute, location in 3 minutes, and troubleshooting in 5 minutes. Smart O&M makes data center networks more reliable and guarantees financial service experience for customers.
Intelligent IP networks, 5G and ADN are the building blocks of Finance Intelligent Twins.
Huawei Intelligent Connectivity Solutions for All Scenarios
The goal of intelligent connectivity is to make connectivity intelligent and to connect intelligence. Huawei will help build industry Intelligent Twins with intelligent connectivity solutions characterized by ubiquitous gigabit, deterministic experience, and hyper-automation. We are committed to driving the intelligent upgrade of industries with AI.
In terms of technology, we will use 5G, F5G, and Wi-Fi 6 to provide ubiquitous gigabit and low latency connectivity to AI cameras, ultra-HD drones, ultra-HD industrial cameras, robotic arms, VR/AR applications, and other intelligent interaction devices. We will also apply AI to the full stack of networks to precisely identify service intent, dynamically allocate network resources, and build networks that take advantage of the synergy between intelligent IP and optical networks. This will meet the varying needs of different users and deliver deterministic experience. In addition, AI will be integrated into network elements, networks, and the cloud to build ADN solutions. Moving from SDN to ADN, Huawei’s network solutions will make service deployment more efficient and accurate and reduce human error and network failure, making automated O&M a reality.
In terms of network scenarios, we will provide intelligent connectivity solutions to campus, data center, WAN, and security networks. For industries, intelligent connectivity will be combined with the intelligent hub, intelligent interaction, and industry know-how to customize solutions for the intelligent upgrade of transportation, government, energy, and the financial industry.
Three Key Huawei Innovations
5G Intelligent Connectivity: Gigabit Uplink Speed, 20 ms Latency, Submeter-level Location
First, we have 5G intelligent connectivity, which is developing much faster than everyone expected. As of now, 90 5G networks have been deployed globally, and there will be nearly 200 million 5G users in China alone by the end of this year. Based on six technological innovations, Huawei has delivered 5G networks featuring superior experience, simplified networking, and smart O&M to global carrier customers.
To meet industry needs for intelligent upgrades, Huawei continues to innovate and improve its 5G network capabilities in terms of uplink bandwidth, latency, and location accuracy. With super uplink technology, Huawei’s 5G uplink speed can reach Gbps level, enabling HD video uploading for smart manufacturing. For example, one aircraft manufacturer used 5G, HD videos, and AI to detect joints, and manage perimeters and mobile toolboxes. This helped the manufacturer reduce the time for static detection of its hangar from 30 days to 3 days, increasing delivery efficiency tenfold.
Pre-scheduling and mini-slot enable 20 ms latency, facilitating remote hoist operation and replacing 90% of manual labor with autonomous operations.
UTDOA and higher bandwidth support submeter-level location accuracy to meet the location needs of smart manufacturing and asset management, raising the production and management efficiency of industrial parks to a new level.
Intelligent IP Networks: High Bandwidth and Lossless for All Services
Secondly, we have intelligent IP networks. At HUAWEI CONNECT 2019, Huawei launched four data communications products. This year, we are applying AI capabilities to networks to help build industry Intelligent Twins. Built on a three-layer AI architecture, intelligent IP networks can identify service needs, analyze network status in real time, and allocate network resources to deliver deterministic experience. In addition, smart network O&M powered by AI enables rapid service deployment and automatic troubleshooting, making network O&M more efficient.
Moreover, this year we’ve launched upgraded versions of the data communications products unveiled in 2019.
CloudCampus 2.0 takes campus networks to the gigabit era, providing gigabit access via any device to any application. CloudWAN 2.0 brings intelligence to WAN networks. In WAN scenarios, the synergy between multiple clouds and multiple networks is the key. By introducing the IPv6+ protocol from end to end, synergies between clouds and networks can be achieved. Network slicing isolates different services to meet the needs of differentiated services. CloudFabric 2.0 uses a unique AI scheduling algorithm to achieve zero packet loss in data center networks, and increase both AI compute and storage efficiency by over 30%.
Intelligent IP networks reflect the coordination between compute and connectivity, and are a key part of Huawei’s intelligent connectivity solutions.
F5G Intelligent All-optical Networks: High Bandwidth Interconnection and Flexible Pipes
Lastly, we have fiber. As we enter the F5G era, Huawei has put forward its all-optical network strategy. With this strategy, we are committed to bringing ultimate service experience to every person, home and organization. We have developed three solutions for F5G intelligent all-optical networks.
The first is Campus OptiX solution. In the past, optical technology was mainly used in backbone and MAN networks. By using optical technology in campus networks, Campus OptiX offers high bandwidth access to meet campus needs for new services such as 4K cameras, and VR/AR.
The second is Single OptiX powered by Liquid OTN technology. Different services require different bandwidth: Some services may need 1 Gbps bandwidth, while some may only need 100 Mbps. Liquid OTN can divide a single fiber line into 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, and 1 Gbps channels, meeting diverse transmission needs while increasing efficiency.
The third solution is DC OptiX based on automatic fiber discovery and commissioning technologies. DC OptiX frees networks from planning and maintenance. IT staff can deploy this plug-and-play enterprise solution in just 8 minutes. As of now, DC OptiX has helped over 140 financial institutions, ISPs, and OTT players efficiently deploy data center interconnect networks.
Connectivity Never Stops Advancing
Over the past 40 years, Huawei has worked with all stakeholders to connect the unconnected and build a fully connected world. Over the next 40 years, we are committed to building industry Intelligent Twins with intelligent connectivity.
Humanity is now transitioning from the information world to the intelligent world. Intelligence will connect more closely with humans than ever to push our physical limits even further. Fifth-generation connectivity technology, primarily 5G, IPv6+, F5G, and Wi-Fi 6, is bridging the virtual and physical worlds with ubiquitous gigabit, deterministic experience, and hyper-automation capabilities. An intelligent world is just around the corner.
Looking even further ahead, sixth-generation connectivity technology will bring more changes across multiple dimensions (space, time, and scale), including hundreds of times higher bandwidth, lower latency, and wider coverage, taking humanity from the intelligent world to the holographic world. Our exploration in connectivity will never end!
Huawei will continue to invest in basic research and systematically improve its engineering capabilities in platforms, modules, algorithms, and techniques. As we move towards sixth-generation connectivity represented by 6G, New IP, F6G, and Wi-Fi 7, we will continue to challenge technological limits to offer the world’s best connectivity.
Scaling New Heights with Intelligent Connectivity
Huawei will encounter many more challenges moving forward. But obstacles do not block the path. With no way back, success is our only way forward!
At Huawei, we are ready to keep going and scale new heights.