Into the future with 5G

We interview general manager of the Hytera broadband system business division, Dr Guan Bao, who discusses the opportunities created by next generation broadband technology

What are the challenges and opportunities for Hytera as we move into the 5G era? What advantages do you have over consumer technology companies when dealing with mission-critical users?

The success of 5G is largely dependent on how well it establishes itself as a reliable communications solution in different vertical markets and industries. 5G will have the dramatic effect of pushing mobile phone operators into the industrial domain. This will drive the convergence of public and private networks, which will be a serious challenge to Hytera, as well as other traditional PMR solution providers. There are three reasons for this.

Firstly, the roll-out of technology and products will be much faster than before, requiring more investment in R&D, and more prospective planning in terms of developing new technology and products. Secondly, the commercial ecosystem will become increasingly open and diverse compared with the closed ecosystems associated with traditional PMR. Finally, the new competitors from the public commercial networks and IT world will be much stronger than traditional PMR suppliers.

5G will create huge opportunities for Hytera too. The 5G vertical market is much larger than that of traditional PMR, and with the right supporting policies and investments in place, 5G will inspire Hytera to upgrade its technology and product range, thereby boosting the company’s core competence.

5G will also help us build a more open, and broader, ecosystem across the IT and CT domains. This includes flexible cooperation modes ranging from software or product components to ODM/OEM services and a full end-to-end solution. In short, despite the serious challenge presented by 5G, it will bring a huge opportunity to Hytera and other traditional PMR solution providers, the likes of which we have never seen before.

On the other hand, suppliers will have to deal with a very fragmented market, thereby requiring a lot of customisation to meet the demands of each industry. Again, this is a huge challenge for mobile operators and other new market entrants. Compared with these newcomers, Hytera has dedicated itself to supplying different vertical markets for almost 30 years. As such, it has accumulated a rich heritage of experience, established solid client relationships, and created a global distribution channel.

Over the past 30 years, Hytera has developed a complete product range, including applications, networks and terminals for most vertical industries. Hytera knows these customers well, so will seemingly find it much easier than the new market entrants to integrate 5G with their legacy systems. This is particularly important when implementing 5G for mission critical users, such as public safety.

5G will, therefore, bring both challenges and opportunities to Hytera. However, in general, we believe that the opportunity is larger than the challenge.

What strategy has the company developed to meet these challenges and opportunities? Are there any new or evolved technologies we are likely to see from it?

5G will dramatically extend the service scope of operators. In addition to the existing TO-C business, the 5G TO-B/G service will generate a huge increase in revenues for operators. As one of the leading traditional PMR solution providers, Hytera will use its vast experience to focus on 5G vertical applications, which will provide the bridge between the operators and the vertical industry clients.

5G will be utilised by a wider range of industries and applied to a greater number of diverse scenarios within them. Clients will want more customisation to meet their particular demands, and this will require a more open and intelligent technology and solutions ecosystem, as well as greater coordination.

An open system is more conducive to promoting collaboration across the industry supply chain. In addition, ICT convergence will accelerate the application of new technologies such as big data and AI in 5G networks, which will encourage more innovation all round.

To align itself with this new trend, Hytera will focus on establishing some more flexible business models. In addition to providing the traditional total solution, Hytera is also actively looking to deliver some new services by establishing a technical services solution.

By harnessing its comprehensive capabilities in R&D, manufacturing, engineering, and maintenance, Hytera will modularise its core technology. It will use standard and open interfaces to facilitate the integration of new communications systems by third-party customers, such as operators and system integrators.

This will decrease the complexity of the integration process and shorten the time it takes to implement solutions. It will also mean the supply side is better adapted to meet the diverse demands of different vertical industries.

Hytera will, therefore, select a relatively open technical route to deal with the serious challenge and huge opportunity of 5G. Open RAN [O-RAN] solutions have developed quickly over the last three years and are attracting increasing attention with their openness and intelligence.

We think that O-RAN will become one of the major technologies in 5G, especially in the 5G vertical application space. This openness and intelligence [represented by O-RAN] will definitely promote more overall innovation in terms of developing new technology and business models, and it will encourage collaboration across the different partners.

In the coming weeks and months, Hytera will release a series of O-RAN products and solutions, which we believe will help us deal better with the challenges and opportunities presented by 5G.

Is there any industry sector or vertical which you plan to focus your attention on in relation to 5G? What discussions have you had with clients so far?

Smart manufacturing, such as smart factories, mines and ports, and smart campuses are major 5G vertical application scenarios. 5G already has a lot of successful use cases in these scenarios, so Hytera aims to devote more attention to these sectors.

After discussions with these types of clients, it is clear that most of them wish to build a 5G private network on their campus with dedicated base stations and spectrum. This kind of private 5G network has some obvious benefits for these clients.

These include that private 5G networks provide higher levels of security and privacy to clients, due to both dedicated equipment and the fact that data will not be transmitted beyond the campus in question. In addition, clients can control who has access to the network by establishing a whitelist of authorised personnel.

At the same time, private 5G networks are able to provide clients with large throughput and low latency as they do not share the base station and radio resource with public clients.By having a dedicated, unshared base station, private 5G networks are therefore able to provide clients with more customised technology, and services on demand, such as super uplink.

Finally, private 5G networks can provide users with a more flexible and economic billing policy. This is attractive to industry as it reduces OPEX costs.

By focusing on the manufacturing and campus sectors, Hytera already has some successful business cases using private 5G networks in China. This includes 5G smart manufacturing, as well as smart mines and smart ports.

Alongside the construction of private 5G networks, we are also providing customers with a variety of supporting applications such as enterprise-level command and control platforms, Push-to-Talk over Cellular applications and universal communication platforms interconnecting 5G with legacy systems.

By using these applications, clients are quickly able to utilise private 5G networks in their daily work. This enhances the efficiency of their operations and management processes, all of which demonstrates the remarkable value 5G can bring to vertical industries.

Are there any new products or solutions that Hytera has developed recently, specifically in the 5G space?

As mentioned before, Hytera will choose more open technology for 5G vertical applications, for instance O-RAN. The O-RAN Alliance has provided the open architecture for O-RAN, mostly targeting the 5G product. Hytera has developed its latest HyXG solutions to cover both 4G and 5G, based on the contribution made by the O-RAN Alliance.

The HyXG solution provides a detailed implementation for both 4G and 5G networks, which will be quite suitable for the evolution of the radio access network (RAN) from 4G to 5G, especially for those clients who wish to build 4G networks now. But the platform is ready for 5G in the future, so that will save CAPEX when upgrading to 5G in several years’ time.

The HyXG solution and product range use open standards and can provide partners with flexible collaboration models. These includeintegration of the full equipment into the partners’ solution, for instance BBU or RRU.It also includes integration of the functional module into partners’ equipment, for instance acceleration boards or software packages with an open interface.

Finally, there is an OEM service based on the existing HyXG product to meet partners’ particular specifications.

Hytera aims to build up a wide and flexible ecosystem based around the HyXG products. This will help accelerate the fast and healthy growth of the O-RAN industry, while promoting O-RAN as a success in the 5G vertical application space.