He noted out that the full 3GPP Release 15 spec – which is expected in June this year – will only address part of future use cases for 5G, which is the enhanced mobile broadband for consumers.
[This author has repeatedly stated that 3GPP Release 16 and parts of Release 15 will be submitted to ITU-R WP5D as a candidate IMT 2020 RIT in July 2019 and NOT BEFORE THEN!]
Xu said the current 4G infrastructure is “pretty robust” and good enough to support most use cases and he doesn’t see many clear use cases or applications which can only be supported with 5G. Xu is not expecting 5G to be used for nationwide coverage in China (or any other country for that matter), at least to begin with. Instead, he expects 5G to be used for specific, more localized deployments where there is a need for increased speed and bandwidth.
However, he noted, this doesn’t mean it’s not worth investing in 5G. “If you’re not investing in 5G, your customers won’t invest in your 4G,” Xu said.
“It’s the same case for telecoms operators. They are driven by competition, if one telco in the market says, ‘I have 5G-enabled services,’ the other service providers will have to launch 5G, for marketing and branding reasons.”
Xu said Huawei will continue to be committed in 5G investment and the company’s progress in this area is quite “encouraging.”
“By the second half of this year we will launch end to end 5G solution to cater our operators customers who do have requirements for 5G. And we are going to launch 5G-capable smartphones in the third quarter of next year.”
Huawei has failed to find a U.S. carrier to partner with for its smartphones, and the Federal Communications Commission this Tuesday approved a draft order that could damage Huawei’s existing business in telecom/network equipment. The order cited Huawei and its Chinese rival ZTE by name.
Huawei’s struggles in the United States are in contrast to its booming business in developing countries and growing presence in Europe, where it has been working on next-generation, or “5G,” wireless standards. The company’s profits rose 28.1 percent in 2017, boosted by strong enterprise and consumer sales and booming business overseas.
The recent setbacks have left Huawei’s future in the U.S. uncertain. Huawei recently let go of several American employees in their Washington D.C. office, including William Plummer, who spearheaded efforts to convince the U.S. to allow Huawei in for nearly a decade. Though Huawei declined to comment on the layoffs, the news was first reported by the New York Times and independently confirmed by the Associated Press.
Huawei and ZTE’s burgeoning 5G research is seen as a particular threat, as its expanded transmitting capabilities are seen as crucial for a host of emerging technologies based on artificial intelligence – including self-driving vehicles, robots and other machines that transmit vast amounts of data in real time.
Apart from expanding its influence in the ITU-R WP 5D, which develops cellular technology standards, Huawei joined forces with European companies to develop pseudo “5G” standards. In February, it completed the world’s first “5G” test call in partnership with London-based Vodafone.
Still, while Chinese trade relations with Europe remain calm, Washington has been warning officials in Canada and Australia about Huawei, raising questions about the company’s long-term global prospects.
“Huawei is perceived differently in Europe but that’s definitely a risk for the company,” said Thomas Husson, principal analyst at technology research firm Forrester. “Let’s not forget Europeans can still try to push in favor of European-based solutions from Nokia or Ericsson.”