Huawei commits to bridging the digital divide, connecting to the digital world
published : 25 Nov 2022 at 15:36
Huawei has signed a global commitment to join the International Telecommunication Union's Partner2Connect digital alliance, which will bring connectivity to about 120 million people in remote areas in more than 80 countries by 2025.
Liang Hua, Chairman of Huawei, announced the decision at the company's 2022 Sustainability Forum, Connectivity+: Innovate for Impact. The forum explored how ICT innovation could unleash the business and social value of connectivity and drive sustainability in the digital economy era.
In global, by working closely with operators from around the world, Huawei has built over 1,500 networks that connect more than three billion people in more than 170 countries and regions. In Asia Pacific, to date, Huawei has provided connectivity services to nearly 1.1 billion people and 293 million homes across 20 Asia-Pacific countries (excluding China and India). Huawei has maintained a solid track record in security throughout. In 2021, Huawei maintained more than 300,000 base stations in the region, allowing 4G network coverage to reach 97% of the population. Fixed broadband download rates now exceed 110 Mbit/s in the region, an increase of 17% over the previous year.
The construction of optical broadband networks offers another important route to realising a universal service. Huawei has proposed an innovative AirPON solution for areas with low population density, including remote areas. This solution continuously reduces the footprint of equipment rooms, optical fibre installation costs, and network power consumption, while ensuring the rapid deployment of local communication networks.
In Thailand, using AirPON, Connecting the unconnected rural areas and bring benefits to Thai society. In the mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a mountain road 60 kilometres long provides the main access route connecting local villages to the nearest city. However, flooding occurs whenever it rains due to the steep terrain and lack of drainage, and the road has earned the local nickname "Water Road". This rugged mountain road and the lack of access are a great inconvenience to residents.
To improve this situation, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) of Thailand decided to use the funds raised through the Universal Service Obligation (USO) to bring fibre broadband to these villages. This will upgrade existing fibre infrastructure and help the mountains of Chiang Mai go digital. The ultimate purpose is to achieve Thailand's vision of becoming "The Country of One Digital".
Huawei helped NBTC implement the USO NET project in the mountainous areas in Chiang Mai. During a field visit, the project team found that the residents living in these areas were not just far from the city, but also scattered across many small villages. Because of this, a traditional FTTH solution would be too costly and energy-intensive, as it would require a large footprint with large equipment rooms and many kilometres of fibre cables. In addition, it was difficult to find a suitable place to accommodate all the required facilities. Instead, Huawei turned to its more cost-effective AirPON solution that repurposes existing poles and cables, with equipment rooms installed up on the poles, making service provisioning faster and communications services available and affordable to local residents.
By the end of 2021, the USO NET project had provided Internet access to 19,652 villages, including 3,920 border villages, and 607,966 households now have access to high-speed broadband services. Through this project, we also provided targeted digital skills training to local people to further bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
"Bridging the gap between urban and rural areas has become the world’s top priority to balance the unbalanced development in global digital economy," said ITU Deputy Secretary-General Malcolm Johnson. “ITU’s data shows that by the end of 2022, 95% of the world's population will have been within range of a mobile broadband network, but only one in three individuals will be able to go online, whilst level of internet use stands at 22% in low-income country whereas high-income countries are at 91%. Hence, we need digital connectivity more than ever before to shape peaceful, sustainable societies and economies. However, connectivity alone is not enough. It must be affordable, the content must be relevant and in the local language, and users must have the skills to make best use of it. Thank you to Huawei for their support of the Partner2Connect (P2C) Digital Coalition, and for their announced P2C pledges in the key areas of rural connectivity and digital skills. I visited a small village in a remote part of Thailand a few years ago that recently became connected to broadband as part of the Thai government project. The villages are now selling their crafts online, a 300% increase in their profits. The profits have been used to connect the village school and give students laptops. These are the examples that show that connectivity can really change people’s lives for the better, which is what we call meaningful connectivity."
Huawei’s pledge to ITU’s P2C
In his keynote address, Dr Liang stressed that access to a stable network was a basic requirement and right in the digital age. For many who remain unconnected, access to reliable connectivity would mark the first step towards transforming their lives.
"Connectivity will be more than just a tool for convenient communications," he said. "Together with digital technologies like cloud and AI, connectivity will help bring everyone into the digital world, and provide them with access to more information and skills, better services, and wider business opportunities. This will, in turn, drive further social and economic development."
Digital transformation, digital talent, and new business models are all essential for balanced development in remote regions. Huawei previously announced that by 2025, with the improved ICT infrastructure, the company will work with partners to enable 500 million people to enjoy digital financial services and 500,000 people to enjoy inclusive education. In Thailand, Huawei has established the Huawei ASEAN Academy Thailand in 2019, which has trained over 60,000 ICT professionals and 3,000 SMEs. In collaboration with MDES and MHESI, Huawei has released the Thailand’s Digital Talent Whitepaper and identified 11 key challenges and 5 policy recommendations.
In the digital economy era, the "digital divide" between small and medium-sized enterprises and head enterprises is widening. Ubiquitous connectivity will be the first step for small and medium-sized enterprises to cope with the challenges. This year, Huawei launched Spark Ignite and To date, over 1700 startups in Thailand were directly reached and 132 of them applied in Thailand. By providing Huawei's experience in the ICT field and cloud platform resources, Huawei helps more startups connect, seize digital opportunities, and achieve business success.
The intelligent world is fast approaching. The new ubiquitous connectivity, enabled by 5.5G, F5.5G, Net5.5G, and more, has the potential to create new business value and greater social value.
Huawei is committed to inclusive development. Through its ongoing technological innovation, Huawei is contributing to a higher level of digitalization in remote regions, enabling everyone to enjoy the convenience of a digital life, and promoting the balanced development of the global digital economy.