The key steps to 5G business success – Huawei’s Barry Hou

While 5G has been around for three years, its development speed has exceeded industry expectations. Around 240 commercial networks have launched during these three years, with the 5G customer base reaching 1 billion, accessing services through one of around 800 5G-compatible devices launched by a range of vendors.

From an industry and ecosystem perspective, 5G is therefore becoming a mature technology.

The top 20 5G operators globally saw their revenue rise on average between 4% and 6% last year, demonstrating that 5G is delivering for operators in financial terms. Compared to the 1% revenue increase registered across all operators globally, it’s clear that 5G plays a significant role in driving revenue growth.

At Mobile World Congress 2023, Huawei’s President of 5G Marketing and Solution Sales Barry Hou explained the steps that are necessary to capitalize on the strengths of 5G technology, and therefore achieve 5G business success.

Migrating Users to 5G

Hou noted that based on its own analysis, Huawei has identified four key factors for achieving 5G business success: attracting more users and traffic; increasing ARPU; driving innovations; and improving user experience. There is a level of interconnection among these; by swiftly migrating users onto new services, user experience is improved, which in turn encourages them to consume more data, thereby increasing ARPU. Hou noted that Huawei’s clients saw their ARPU rise by as much as 10%, demonstrating how 5G can provide a foundation for growing business.

To underline the importance of swift user migration, Hou said that it would be possible for an operator to achieve return on investment in less than three years if they managed to convert 30% of their data traffic to 5G quickly enough. He noted that this was an achievable goal, saying that the first step was to make devices affordable to increase the penetration rate. Precise marketing would help to identify valuable 5G users on the network, and these customers can then be targeted with attractive 5G offers designed to meet their requirements, driving uptake.

Differentiating User Experience

Once users have been migrated to 5G, the next question is how to continue monetization. Traffic filling has typically been the key method but it is important to explore other avenues. Hou said that experience differentiation is a key draw – the main avenues for this are downlink and uplink monetization, with premium downlink a particularly effective option for service differentiation, offering VIP users better speeds than standard customers. Hou noted that while many operators have already implemented such a system, there are other options for guaranteeing speeds, including 5G slicing. If for example users have an important called scheduled, personal 5G slicing solutions can offer a committed 20Mbps downlink speed at critical moments.

FWA a ‘quick win’ for monetization

5G Fixed Wireless Access is another aspect of the technology that can deliver results for operators – indeed, Hou described 5G FWA as a ‘quick win’ for 5G monetization, with 95 operators worldwide (around two thirds of global 5G operators) launching commercial 5G FWA offerings. Within two years, the number of subscribers using the technology globally reached 10 million – an incredible statistic. However, Huawei is keen to continue exploring new 5G scenarios enabled by FWA – since the tech can support a maximum of 1Gbps, it has enabled the replacement of copper across Europe.

Within the European continent, there are still around 200 million users reliant on copper access, and they receive slow speeds as a result. By upgrading from copper to 5G FWA, bit rates can be boosted to 300Mbps. In emerging markets, fibre penetration is fairly low – estimated 7.2% – but there is demand for a fibre-like experience for home internet access. 5G FWA is therefore a viable solution for home broadband access in these regions.

5GtoB driving revenue growth

Hou was upbeat about the business prospects of 5GtoB, noting that the fast development of the technology in China had resulted in the country’s three main operators nearly tripling their revenue for 5GtoB from 2021 to 2022. He noted similar success in overseas markets between 2021 and 2022, with the number of 5G private networks deployed nearly doubling year-on-year from 62 to over 120. Since most 5G operators already have very good 5G infrastructure, they can use this to their advantage to provide virtual private networks via 5G slicing technology. Also, campus private networks have been deployed to help digital transformation of many industries, including manufacturing, mining, ports, etc.

Evolving app ecosystems require 5G advances

As 5G evolves into 5.5G, it’s important to learn from its successes. With 5G, shortform video apps are exploding in popularity, and their content is generated by consumers (UGC – User Generated Content). This is a major change from the 4G era, in which video content was typically PGC (Professionally Generated Content), and as AI advances swiftly, we’re likely to see AI-generated content before long. While it is not yet clear what form AIGC will take, it will likely be video or at the very least image based, and the AI technology itself will require even lower latency and a higher data burden – around 50Mbps per user, as compared to using an app like TikTok over a 5G connection, which requires a base level of 4-10Mbps. This means that a single base station would require at least 5Gbps, which can’t be supported by current 5G technologies.

It’s clear that monetization is a key focus of 5G, and all aspects and use cases for the technology must be taken into account to achieve this. Whether this is driving consumer adoption via service differentiation, boosting subscriber numbers by introducing 5G Fixed Wireless Access, or exploring enterprise use cases via 5GtoB, operators have many paths available in the pursuit of 5G business success.


Huawei records profit plunge

Huawei reported a plunge in profits in its 2022 financial year blaming “external environments and non-market factors”, and that 2023 will be a “crucial” year for the vendor’s “sustainable survival and development”.

In a statement, Huawei rotating chairman Eric Xu said: “In 2022, a challenging external environment and non-market factors continued to take a toll on Huawei’s operations », said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the company’s annual report press conference.

« In the midst of this storm, we kept racing ahead, doing everything in our power to maintain business continuity and serve our customers. We also went to great lengths to grow the harvest – generating a steady stream of revenue to sustain our survival and lay the groundwork for future development. »

Incoming rotating chair and CFO Meng Wanzhou (pictured) added “despite substantial pressure in 2022” the results were in line with forecast.

Xu also added that the vendor has “considerable pressure” ahead of it in, but remained confident the vendor will push through by maintaining its stance on investing in R&D.

“We are confident in our ability to rise above any challenge that comes our way, laying a solid foundation for sustainable survival and development, » he said.

Profit for the vendor fell 68.7% to CNY35.6 billion (US$5.2 billion), and revenue was flat at CNY642.3 billion.

Revenue in its enterprise unit grew 30% to CNY133.2 billion. The carrier business saw flat revenue at CNY284 billion, and consumer dropped 11.9% to CNY214.5 billion.

Capex was CNY161.5 billion in 2022, representing 25.1% of overall revenue and bringing its total R&D expenditure over the past 10 years to over CNY977.3 billion.


bKash and Huawei pushing financial inclusion in Bangladesh

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Ofcom raise automatic compensation payments for UK ISP connectivity failures


Today, the UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has seen fit to increase the amount of automatic compensation via cash or bill credits for loss of connectivity and delivery delays.  

The system is voluntary for home broadband ISPs, first launched on 1st April 2019, designed to compensate consumers for delayed repairs following connectivity failures. Originally, if a connectivity outage was not fixed in 2 working days the compensation was set at £8.40 per day over this, with missed appointments also potentially awarding £26.24 to the consumer. Delay to starting new services also incurred a charge of £5.25 per day.  

All these rates are now set to increase in line with inflation from the 1st of April annually, based on the Consumer Price Index from 31st Oct the previous year, which was around 11%. This means ISPs signed up to this system will now pay £9.33 per day for delayed repairs, £29.15 for missed appointments, and £5.83 per day if delaying the start of a new service.  

Most Major ISPs do support the system with big names such as BT, EE, Plusnet, Hyperoptic, Sky Broadband (plus NOW Broadband), Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse, Vodafone (Openreach’s network only), and Zen Internet already signed up.

What with many providers feeling the squeeze of the general increase in bills, this could well put off more ISPs from joining this still voluntary scheme. Smaller providers will be even more unlikely to sign up given the costs and technical hurdles required to support the scheme. However, customers of providers might not need to worry, as some ISPs outside the scheme do provide their own approaches to compensation.  

Want to learn more about UK connectivity and engage with the full ecosystem? Connected North will be kicking off this April 17-18 and is poised to have key regional stakeholders discuss policy, regulations, competition, technology, and more. Click here to book your place today.

Ovo Energy reportedly planning takeover bid for Shell Energy Retail


Ovo Energy is reported planning to acquire Shell Energy Retail, which in addition to supplying gas and electricity to 1.4 million households, also has a fixed broadband base numbering around 500,000 subscriptions

If Ovo’s bid is successful, it would once again make it the second largest energy supplier in the UK market, and follows the high-profile acquisition of SSE’s retail division back in 2019, and marks Shell’s exit from the broader European retail energy market. The company is also, according to industry sources, keen to offload it’s broadband arm, and with OVO not having a foothold in the sector, this will likely be one of the first outcomes of any deal. OVO previously sold SSE’s telecoms division to TalkTalk. There have also been reports that Centrica, the owner of British Gas and the UK’s largest energy supplier, are considering a bid which would prove controversial.

Any deal for the latter would mark increasing consolidation in the UK broadband market with several providers having merged or bought outright over the last few months, and with M&A becoming an increasingly dominant theme within the UK market, any sale of Shell’s broadband arm will add to the conversation.

Learn more about how the UK market dynamics are changing at this year’s Connected Britain which is being held at the ExCel in London on September 20 & 21

Startup Stories: A tale of resiliency in helping UK Altnets scale at speed efficiently

Startup Stories

Tell us about your start up

Telco is our core sector, primarily fast growing Altnets, because they must scale their business as fast as possible, which means going through several phases of business transformation with the clock ticking… the Department of Culture Media and Sport noted “The sector needs to grow 3x over the next 4 years to meet government targets. A massive a challenge first hit by COVID then the current macro-economics.

Investment into the sector is available, but finance alone will not resolve two groups of issues that are currently preventing growth at the required level.

The first group of issues is outside the office and includes obtaining consent and physical access to premises from the property owners, which is proving to be a major practical difficulty for providers, or consent to provide the infrastructure, whether that’s digging trenches in roads, attaching wires to telegraph poles or Wayleave Agreements. Once the work is underway, there is a national shortage of skilled workers capable of building full fibre.

The second issue group is inside the office. Most Altnets have yet to modernise their back-office project operations with repeatable standardised processes that scales, to improve the efficiency of onboarding new resource and make the most of the talent already in place. Each Altnet has its own way of “making do”, with labour-intensive legacy software, such as spreadsheets, Gantt charts, PowerPoint TM, email and project delivery processes that vary by Project Manager that are counter-productive to the need to scale.

As Altnets race to scale in size and numbers, the cost per mile, or premises passed, increase, not decrease, through a lack of oversight, efficiency and a skills shortage at every level, resulting in a requirement for significant re-investment, or mergers and acquisitions, to stay in the game. In essence, the level of complexity increases, on every level. As new entrants join the fray, increased competition further drives down revenue, undermines business growth strategies, that then lead to missed targets.

We know this because we focus on the sector and have just conducted our own survey, contacting 100 of the fastest growing Altnets, with a good response across the sector, including some of the biggest players.

The key for Altnets to scale faster is to simplify the management of complex project delivery, particularly for multiple site deliveries, along with compliance and governance. Clearly there is a need for process standardization. To automate much of this work within a single, real-time platform is a challenging puzzle, combining the dark arts of project management, software design, business processes and digital transformation, all with good user experience. Then you have the work itself, as the number of parties and moving parts involved is significant. For those thinking of doing all of this inhouse, it can take years to get right. Most will not have the time, or worse, fail for any number of reasons.

Through working with industry professionals, we have developed EZPS, an easy-to-use turnkey platform that simplifies the complexity of project and portfolio management oversight. The platform is dedicated to helping Altnets meet the challenge of increasing project delivery efficiency, whilst driving cost reductions and resiliently scaling at speed.

What is your USP?

We own our IP which has made standardized implementation end-to-end project oversight possible. We focus specifically on the sector using our industry knowledge to continuously tune the platform, to meet any changing market conditions.

The platform manages the intricacies of different project types, including PIA, in a unique way. It plans, auto updates in real-time, predicts projects/portfolio status and costs every step of the way, with a single source of truth. To deliver a repeatable, homogenous experience, with high automation, voice assist and easy collaboration, irrespective of project type or size, the platform required a certain level of industry-codified knowledge and intelligence.

Our platform provides efficiency savings for all project team personnel and stakeholders, including customers and suppliers, if required. For example, each Project Managers working on one average size project can save 14 hours per week using the SME version of our service. A serious time saving for any growing or under-resourced organisation.

Ninety percent of User Onboarding is 30mins training, to run one project, or large multiple-site projects and programmes, it does not matter.  C-level Executives, even have their own voice assist via their mobile phone, for portfolio and business performance, a world first in project portfolio delivery.

Our platform provides efficiency savings for all project Teams and SME level customers purchasing the service off the web, and only pay for the number of users. Any additional new functions, modules, AI, business analytics or automation comes free of charge at those service levels.

Our purpose is to help every single customer unleash their full potential in order to achieve their definition of success, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What is your relationship with the telecom sector?

We have a long-combined history in telecoms (and other industry sectors), working as independent business change consultants and contractor project managers with BT Global Services, Openreach, Verizon, Spiritel, Level3, Adapt, Vodafone, Touchbase, NextGenAccess and Cisco. We like a challenge, being problem solvers and solution providers.

How have you got to your current stage of development? (role of accelerators, partners etc)

Marketing and sales do not come naturally to us, although we are learning. Thirteen years ago, we pitched the platform concept to 50 companies, in different market sectors. 12 said if we built it, they would buy it. We thought great. We raised private investment to build a real-time core business process modelling engine, built the first platform then… no-one bought, for many reasons, from the financial crash, to not trusting their business data to be stored in the cloud. At the time, less than 1% of apps were B2B. Although we crashed and burned, we kept the platform alive… hosted, as we knew we had something, and then went back to our day jobs of consulting.

A couple of years ago, I was called out of the blue by an Altnet Executive we previously pitched to, asking if we still have the platform, as he couldn’t find anything comparable. At the time, I was two years into working for a global manufacturer doing business change from a nice Mayfair office and flying to challenging parts of the world. I like to finish what I started, so politely turn the Altnet down, saying if my co-founder says yes, then I will say yes.

Two years later, after we built a bespoke platform for our first Altnet, we quickly worked out a scalable industry standard turnkey platform called EZPS, which can be purchased off the web, at Team and SME level, or bespoke at the Enterprise level. We are self-financing and growing organically, with most of our finance re-invested into R&D, as we are constantly working on enhanced products and services, inside and outside the project world.

Why did you establish the business?

My core background is manufacturing, in various sectors. For me, back in 2007, when I first worked in Telecoms, I was shocked at the areas of waste and how it affected not only the profit margin, but also the stress on people at all levels of the business right to the top. My employer at the time were not the only ones operating this way.

My co-founder and I have worked together in telecoms over the years, and our experience has made it easy for us to see what the issues are, and how to overcome them using innovation.

Back then, we knew others had the same kind of issues. We worked out what needed to be done but could not find software that would do the job. Most project management software packages were manual planning tools, updated for an audience of one… the Project Manager, with no real-time view, or were finance tools following the money with bolt-on project planning and a serious time lag on project status issues.

Even now, most of our competitors have migrated and evolved these legacy shelfware systems to the cloud and thus have constraints that do not lend themselves well to managing complex projects and industry-specific requirements. They lack automation, are resource hungry and a challenge to scale, even when using API’s. For many newer platforms, some doing really well, but they are either heavyweight generalists, or too lightweight to deal with the requirements in the telecoms sector, such as Openreach A55s.

Who inspired you? Do you have a mentor?

My co-founder and I have been lucky to have worked for some interesting people and their companies. For me, I have worked for and directly reported to old and new school serial entrepreneurs. A key early mentor for me is 10 years with Richard Cyzer (contemporary friend of Maurice & Charles Saatchi), who taught me how to run end to end, a high volume multiple-site manufacturing operations from product design to delivery on the high street shelf for the likes of Tesco, Sainsbury, M&S etc. In return, I brought in innovation from other industries, and we grew the business from 43% to 75% of the UK market share in less than 5 years. Those fundamentals have allowed me to work in different industry sectors ever since. My co-founder is inspired by international internet marketing exponents such as Mark Joyner, John Lee, Vince Tan and Igor Kheifets and is currently.

What does the future hold for your business?

Our core and loyalty will always be the Telecoms industry, it got us going, is dynamic, challenging and fun to be in. We aim to be the project delivery platform service provider of choice for Altnets to deliver their business strategy to help the industry players meet their own targets and those targets set by Ofcom.

We have also come to the attention of organisations in a range of other industry sectors. One example is for the last year, we have been working at scale, with a multinational called Publicis and their group of companies (which includes Saatchi & Saatchi). By taking a consultative approach and providing Publicis with a responsive, bespoke solution that’s solving some unique challenges, we have and become an approved platform service provider in a very dynamic business environment.

We have our growth plan mapped out and aim to be in the infinite game, doing our part for UK industry.

To find out more about EZPS, meet them at this year’s Connected North in Manchester on 17-18 April where they will be exhibiting in the startup village.

Also in the news:

Brks doubles customers in Manchester FTTP deployment

FCC talks ‘big picture items’ at Connected America 2023

Ericsson snags 5G mmWave speed record with Faroese Telecom

Three Practical Steps for Building A Quantum Network (Yes, Now!)

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Quantum Communication is a rapidly emerging technology grounded in a robust tradition of academic theory and experimentation.  However, because the industry is still young, building a quantum network is uniquely complex, combining some of the hardest problems in science and engineering. Very few organizations have skill sets in both classical networking and quantum physics and many view quantum networking … [visit site to read more]


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Standardisation has helped the mobile industry to evolve, touching everything from commerce to healthcare. The impact is huge. In 2019, mobile technologies and services contributed $4.1 trillion of additional economic value (around 4.7% of global GDP), equating to around … [visit site to read more]

Brsk doubles customers in Manchester FTTP deployment


Alternative network provider Brsk are progressing well with their new gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) network as they announced hitting 1,000 customers across Manchester. This is a 100% increase from December 2022 when they had 500 sign-ups in the area.  

The Manchester deployment, which Brsk started building early last year, now serves customers across South Manchester, including Stockport, Sale, Didsbury, Edgeley, Reddish, Withington, Burnage, Heaton Mersey, and Parrs Wood.  

This is good progress for one of the UK’s fastest growing altnets with their related press release stating “it’s been a very successful period overall for us, with our network having passed the 150,000 homes mark in recent weeks”.  

Brsk has promised to follow up on this success by aiming to get the following areas online in short order; Stretford, Cheadle, Gatley, Rusholme, Levenshulme, Longsight, Chorlton, Wilmslow, Wythenshawe, Timperley, and Altrincham.  

With plans of passing 1 million homes by 2026, Brsk are treating milestones like this as sign to the market that they are on track to meet their ambitious goals.  

This could be good news for local residents looking for an alternative provider, especially with regular promotional discounts throughout the year, including free setup and installation (worth £150) for every customer along with frozen prices for existing customers in 2023 as well. Altnets like Brsk are proving to be a welcome force behind driving gigabit capable internet across the North. 

For more on connectivity across the North of the UK, there is no better place to engage with the industry and top regional players than Connected North 2023, April 17-18. Tickets are on sale now and you won’t want to miss the agenda!

MTN commits funds to Ghana’s ICT plans

MTN Ghana has broken ground prior to the construction of the Ghana ICT Hub, itself part of the broader Ghana Innovation Hub project to which MTN has committed US$25 million.

The Ghana ICT Hub, which will be the first of its kind in the West African sub-region, will train over 200,000 people with ICT skills and, it is hoped, generate over 100,000 jobs over the first three years.

Additionally, it will provide office spaces and meeting venues for over 100 tech start-ups and tech companies, all in a bid to serve as a catalyst for Ghana’s digitalisation agenda.

The Ghana ICT Hub will, according to government, contribute to boosting Ghana’s ICT and digital ecosystem by providing infrastructural development and resources to enhance ICT skills training and development across the country. The Innovation Hub includes two other projects as well as the Ghana ICT Hub: the Accra Innovation City and the Ghana Education Platform.

Speaking at the ground-breaking event, which was attended by government officials, board members of the Ghana Digital Centres Limited and MTN staff, Selorm Adadevoh, CEO of MTN Ghana, said the establishment of the Ghana ICT Hub would power Ghana to be West Africa’s ICT leader through innovation and digital skills.

The Ghanaian Times report quotes him as saying: « MTN’s decision to partner and support the establishment of the Ghana ICT Hub falls right in line with our Ambition 2025 roadmap of leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.”

The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, added that the decision by MTN to build an ICT hub in Ghana as part of its 25th anniversary was very critical towards realising Ghana’s digital agenda.