ZTE makes prototype smartphone call on China Unicom’s trial 5G network vs Huawei’s 5G NR @ 2.6GHz?

ZTE, which recently completed the 3rd phase of CMIIT IMT-2020 5G core network tests, just  announced it made the a 5G mobile call using its 5G prototype smartphone on the Guangdong branch of China Unicom’s trial 5G network in Shenzhen, China.  The trial was conducted in collaboration with China Unicom and involved placing a 3GPP Release 15 compliant New Radio (NR) non-standalone (NSA) mobile call using the prototype smartphone.  It used ZTE’s 5G end-to-end solution, including radio access network, core network, transport network and prototype device.   In addition to demonstrating a 5G call, the test verified key 5G technologies including Massive MIMO, 5G NR, non-standalone (NSA) dual connectivity, FlexE transport technology and 5G common core architecture (defined by who?).

 ZTE says “the future 5G system should be a unified network adaptable to different scenarios.”


“ZTE’s 5G solution has passed the end-to-end test in the three months after the release of the 3GPP Rel-15,” ZTE said in a statement.  “It showcases ZTE’s strong competency in 5G R&D and commercialization, demonstrating ZTE’s role as a reliable partner to global 5G operators and a key player in the 5G industry.”

Last year, ZTE announced a series of new-generation 5G base stations. The Chinese telecom and mobile phone vendor said that the new generation of 5G high/low frequency Active Antenna Unit (AAU) base stations support 3GPP release 15 “5G NR” NSA specification for the data plane.  The latest ZTE base stations combine the radio and antenna parts.  It is capable of integrating multiple frequency bands, which create what is known as the “AAU solution.” AAU supports 5G functions such as Massive MIMO and Beamforming.

Meanwhile, Huawei says it completed a 5G New Radio (NR) trial in the 2.6 GHz spectrum band.  Huawei said 2.6 GHz is one of the “excellent choices for operators to deploy 5G NSA/SA commercial network.”  The company noted that 2.6 GHz is an “abundant spectrum resource around the world, but not fully used in many areas.”  Huawei’s tests in the 2.6 GHz band follows earlier trials in the 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands.

The two Chinese telecom vendors are vying to take the lead in 5G testing under the jurisdiction of China’s IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group, which was established in 2013 as China’s platform to promote 5G research in that country. The 5G R&D trial established three separate phases for verifying a 5G solution: key technologies, technical solutions, and system networking.






Verizon’s “5G” FWA Progess in Sacramento vs Huawei’s Home Broadband System

Verizon’s “5G” FWA Progresses in Sacramento, CA:

Sacramento Chief Innovation Officer Louis Stewart said in an interview with Government Technology that the California state capital became one of the first four cities nationally to debut Verizon’s (proprietary) “5G” fixed wireless access (FWA) network, along with Los Angeles, Houston and Indianapolis on October 1st.  The purpose of this and other FWA broadband networks is to deliver residential triple play services.

More “5G” offerings should arrive in Sacramento during 2019:

• Sacramento is on schedule to be one of the nation’s first 11 cities that will have the infrastructure needed to underpin “5G” and a connected future.  That includes: in-ground fiber to link light poles and traffic signals and materials to support free Wi-Fi via kiosks in 27 parks. Much of this should arrive in early 2019, the innovation officer said, calling the digital kiosks “not on hold indefinitely,” implying “the conversation is still happening.”

• Emilie Cameron, public affairs and communications director for Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP), the nonprofit that manages the assessment for the property-based improvement district, said the city reached out to the group in late 2017 with “high-level” information about the Verizon partnership. But she described the conversation as “conceptual.” She described the response to the kiosks as generally positive but agreed district members are interested to learn where the devices will be located, what they’ll look like and what content and services will be offered. “You don’t want anything to be in conflict with the streetscape,” Cameron said.

• Stewart said a great deal of coordination must happen to enable deployment of infrastructure and services in 2019, which he described as “a fairly heavy lift.” Sacramento, the innovation executive said, wants to ensure the project is “done right” for the community whether in the parks or in the downtown corridor, to enable “the right user experience.” Much content development for the kiosks’ digital displays remains to be completed, he said, but officials are currently in the “ideation phase.”

“If the future that everybody’s looking at is how do you build, ultimately, a connected city, kiosks fit into that, whether it be providing additional connectivity to connect the cars and autonomous cars as they essentially geolocate, driving down the streets. They could provide other smart city solutions, be they charging stations or power down the road, in some kind of way,” Stewart said.


Huawei’s 5G Home Broadband System:

Huawei and U.K. carrier Three showcased a 5G home broadband demonstration using Three’s 100 megahertz of C-Band spectrum last week at the Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, which IEEE Techblog has been reporting on this week and last.

The demonstration leveraged Huawei’s latest 5G-based home broadband routers to allow forum attendees to experience ultra-high-speed 5G broadband services such as cloud gaming and 4K video streaming, Huawei said.  The world’s #1 network equipment vendor highlighted that the 5G broadband service will deliver a maximum download speed of 2 Gbps, with an average of 1 Gbps for a single user.

Huawei and Three U.K. carried out a pre-commercial network test of this technology earlier this year. The two companies plan to carry out further 5G service tests in the U.K. in the coming months, which are expected to be released to the public in densely-populated urban areas and train stations, paving the way for the full commercial use of 5G networks in 2019.

“The 5G trials we carried out today demonstrate the opportunity this technology brings to the home broadband market. Huawei will continue to work with Three UK to bring customers more market-leading commercial applications of 5G,” said Yang Chaobin, President of Huawei 5G Product Line.

“Huawei is the only true 5G supplier right now,”  said Neil McRae, chief architect at British Telecom. “Others need to catch up. I’ve been to Shenzhen recently and there’s nowhere else in the world where you can see” the kind of 5G technology developments that Huawei has achieved. Other suppliers need to learn from Huawei. Others are held back by old telco issues,” McRae added.

In the UK, Three, EE and BT have all said they’re launching a 5G network in some form in 2019 (that’s 1 year before IMT 2020 standard will be completed and with no standards for virtual RAN, Cloud RAN, network slicing, scheduling, OA&M, etc).  EE has announced which cities will be first to get its 5G service.



Some pundits say that 5G FWA networks have the potential to complement fiber to the home (FTTx) deployments by providing an alternative “last-mile” solution consumer and business services. In both urban and suburban regions, the ability to deploy 5G FWA will help reduce costs for operators and increase accessibility of high speed broadband for residential FWA customers.  5G FWA networking equipment also requires a much smaller footprint than traditional mobile networks, reducing requirements for government approvals of new tower locations.

Market research firm Ovum has this assessment of Huawei’s “5G” FWA strategy:

Huawei has gradually built its WTTx fixed wireless access (FWA) business into a key component of its wireless broadband portfolio. At the Huawei Global Analyst Summit earlier this month, the vendor reported significant successes for WTTx and high expectations for its future development. Although still small in scale relative to mobile broadband services, the FWA market is experiencing rapid growth, even outpacing FTTx and copper for new subscription additions in many world markets, according to Huawei’s figures.  WTTx is central to Huawei’s wireless broadband strategy.

Even though other large network equipment vendors including Nokia and Ericsson provide their own fixed wireless broadband solutions, Huawei is arguably more aggressive in its public backing of FWA. Huawei’s work with WiMAX has given it more experience with fixed wireless and it has existing FWA operator relationships it can leverage. Huawei’s FWA strategy also differs from that of competitors such as Nokia in that it places WTTx as part of its mobile products line rather than part of its fixed broadband offering.

Huawei already claims a substantial installed base for its WTTx fixed wireless offering, with 200 WTTx commercial networks in service and 50 million households connected as of end-2017. The vendor says 82 operators launched WTTx for home broadband in 2017 alone, and it expects to see a surge in demand over the next two years.

The future growth of FWA will depend on a number of factors, including the ability to deliver efficient and sustainable home broadband services to underserved and unconnected communities more economically than fiber alternatives. Huawei has identified the following four major deployment models where it believes WTTx can provide a fiber-like experience to complement fixed broadband:

  • As a home fixed broadband service for mobile operators to deliver triple-play services

  • As a complement to wireline broadband services for converged operators

  • As a DSL upgrade for wholesale broadband providers

  • As a 5G-oriented fixed wireless broadband service.

Along with a maturing WTTx ecosystem, a number of factors support the expansion of fixed wireless services. On the network side, spare cell capacity arising from the uneven traffic distribution associated with smartphones can be used more efficiently by operators introducing FWA services. On the equipment side, advances in self-install CPE, along with performance and efficiency gains from the incorporation of multiple receiver and antenna technologies and the use of massive MIMO and 256QAM at the eNodeB, is helping to deliver a high-capacity equivalent to evolved LTE. This will support the evolution toward 5G FWA.

Even so, the business case for FWA is likely to be challenging, particularly in emerging markets where population densities and ARPU are low. Huawei believes governments and regulators can promote the benefits of universal network coverage by providing more practical encouragement and financial stimulus to local mobile operators. It offers a business operation and management platform as part of its WTTx pre-sales service suite, which helps operators evaluate the potential opportunity for a fixed wireless solution based on aspects such as network capacity trends and coverage gaps in existing FTTx and wireline networks.

Ultimately, the success of fixed wireless broadband will depend on the scope it provides for operators to monetize services.

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Huawei’s “All Bands Go to 5G” Strategy Explained; Partnership with China Telecom Described

Huawei unveiled its “All Bands Go to 5G” strategy for the evolution towards a 5G wireless network at its  Global Mobile Broadband Forum 2018 in London last week. This strategy provides suggestions for future development of the wireless network in three key aspects: simplified site, simplified network, and automation.

Huawei graphic

Huawei Launches the Evolution Strategy for 5G-oriented Wireless Target Network


I. Global commercial use of 5G networks has now entered the fast lane.

Massive wireless connectivity has become an inevitable trend.  Data traffic on global mobile broadband (MBB) networks has increased rapidly. By 1st half of 2018, the data of usage (DOU) for a number of global operators has exceeded 10 GB, and that in certain Middle East regions has even reached 70 GB. Releasing data traffic helps to promote a positive MBB business cycle in the global wireless industry and ushers in a new era of traffic operation.

By October 2018, new fixed wireless access (FWA) services have been put into commercial use on about 230 networks. About 75 million families can now enjoy the benefits of FWA-based home broadband (HBB) services. In the future, the larger bandwidth capability of 5G will provide fiber-like HBB user experience and enable diverse home entertainment applications such as 4K/8K UHD video and AR/VR. At the same time, new IoT connections are becoming a new source of potential growth for operators. LTE NB-IoT is undergoing rapid development and has seen 58 commercial networks around the world, with industry applications providing millions of connections such as smart gas, water, white goods, firefighting, and electric vehicle tracking. 5G technologies will offer more reliable connection capabilities with shorter latency. Massive wireless connectivity has become an inevitable trend.

The development of the global 5G industry is accelerating in 2018. According to the 5G spectrum report published by GSA in November 2018, the UK, Spain, Latvia, Korea, and Ireland have officially released spectrum resources dedicated for 5G by August 2018. In addition, 35 countries have scheduled related plans. The 5G industry supply chain is steadily growing more and more mature.

Huawei claims to have released 5G commercial CPEs in 2018 (???), and multiple 5G smartphones will be launched in 2019. According to the report released by GSMA, 182 global operators are conducting tests on 5G technologies and 74 operators have announced plans for 5G commercial deployment. Global commercial use of 5G networks has now entered the fast lane, according to Huawei (but not this author).

5G development will enable more commercial application scenarios and promote the continuous development of a digital society. Under such circumstances, Huawei has proposed a new eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broad Band) industry vision for Cloud X featuring smart terminals, broad pipes, and cloud applications. For example, Huawei has shifted the most complex processes of rendering, real-time computing, and service content to the cloud. Thanks to transmission data streams using large bandwidth and ultra-low latency on the 5G network, as well as encoding and decoding technologies that match the cloud and terminals, applications such as Cloud AR/VR can be deployed anywhere anytime, according to the company.

Huawei believes that AI technologies can be adopted in the communication industry. AI-based automation of network planning, deployment, optimization, and service provisioning will enable network O&M to be simplified, unleash network potential, and make networks more intelligent.

II. “LTE Evolution+5G NR” is gaining industry’s consensus for 5G wireless networks.

In the 5G era, wireless spectrum evolution is divided into two phases:

Phase 1: Sub-3 GHz spectrum resources evolve to LTE and 5G non stand alone (based on 3GPP release 15 NR) high frequency bands are introduced.

Phase 2: Sub-3 GHz spectrum resources evolve to 5G NR. “LTE Evo+NR” is realized on the target network.

Therefore, target network evolution in the 5G era can be summarized as “LTE Evolution+5G NR.” In the process of achieving this goal, the global wireless network faces the following challenges:

1.  OPEX increases year by year. From 2005 to 2017, global operators’ OPEX/revenue percentage is increased from 62% to 75%. In the future, the coexistence of 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G will increase the complexity of network O&M. In particular, site TCO is high. Site deployment still faces several issues such as difficult site acquisition, high engineering costs, and high site rentals.

2. 4G-LTE basic services fall back to 2G or 3G. Generally, insufficient 4G network coverage causes VoLTE services to fall back to 2G or 3G, deteriorating voice experience. NB-IoT/eMTC services also require better 4G network coverage. As a result, it is difficult for operators to shut down 2G and 3G networks.

–>The coexistence of four RAN technologies leads to more complex network operation and presents difficulties in reducing OPEX.

III. 5G-oriented simplified networks are built to effectively meet challenges and promote 5G business success.

Peter Zhou, CMO of Huawei Wireless Network Product Line, illustrated the evolution strategy for 5G-oriented wireless target network. This strategy aims to help operators resolve the preceding challenges and commercialize 5G. The evolution strategy includes three key aspects: simplified site, simplified network, and automation.

Simplified site enables full outdoor base stations and facilitates site acquisition, deployment, and TCO saving.

Along with the development of Moore’s Law, the 7 nm technology has enjoyed widespread commercial adoption throughout the chip manufacturing industry, and BBUs are becoming more and more integrated. In recent years, lithium battery technology has seen rapid development, and the energy density of lithium batteries is far more superior to that of lead-acid batteries. The development of new technologies makes full outdoor wireless base stations a reality. Peter Zhou pointed out, “Using componentized outdoor BBUs, blade power modules, and blade batteries, full outdoor macro base stations can be deployed on poles without shelters or cabinets. This greatly reduces the upgrade cost of existing sites, decreases the difficulty and cost of obtaining new sites, and helps operators reduce TCO by 30% and above.”

Antenna reconstruction is required for 5G deployment on the C-band. Currently, 70% urban sites cannot deploy new antennas due to insufficient antenna space. In order to resolve this problem, Huawei proposes the “1+1” antenna solution. That is, one multi-band antenna is used to support all sub-3 GHz bands, and one Massive MIMO AAU is used to support C-band NR. In total, two antennas are able to support all operator’s frequency bands. This solution greatly simplifies site space, reduces site OPEX, and realizes 5G NR deployment with insufficient antenna space.

Simplified network realizes the construction of an LTE full-service foundation network and ensures “Zero Fallback” for three basic services.

In the 5G era, the coexistence of multiple RAN technologies (2G/3G/4G/5G) results in complex networks and high O&M costs. Therefore, basic voice, IoT, and data services need to be migrated to the LTE network so that the LTE network becomes the bearer network for basic services and 2G and 3G networks enter the life cycle development phase. Huawei’s Peter Zhou emphasized that, “The LTE network needs to be built as a full-service foundation network to achieve ‘Zero Fallback’ for basic services such as voice, IoT, and data. Therefore, LTE must be planned based on the coverage of basic services rather than the traditional population coverage.”

“Simplified site, simplified network, and automation help operators reduce TCO, simplify the network architecture, reduce operation costs, and fully unleash the network potential. This lays a solid foundation for the successful commercial use of 5G networks and helps the industry to identify the goal and direction for future network evolution. Huawei also wishes to work more closely with industry partners to innovate continuously, build a 5G business ecosystem, and finally achieve a better connected digital society.”


Separately, China Telecom announced it had partnered with Huawei for  investment in 5G innovation and has begun researching how to commercialize 5G technology. Both parties intend to leverage their advantages to develop the 5G service innovation base, build an industry ecosystem alliance, and research the usage scenarios and business models of 5G services. Huawei Wireless X Labs in Shenzhen, simulates 5G technologies and usage scenarios, and works with upstream and downstream industry partners to jointly develop industry standards and plans. China Telecom leverages the resources of 5G trial networks and existing industry customers to develop new 5G applications, driving the development of the entire 5G industry and improving China Telecom’s influence in the 5G field.

Application Models

Based on the first of six 5G trial network, China Telecom Shenzhen is exploring 5G application models. During the 5G Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight test and inspection demonstration, remote control personnel experienced VR capabilities and remote HD video transmission over a low-latency 5G network. Both the maiden test flight and inspection were completed successfully, demonstrating the ability of 5G to support UAV applications. This means that aerial photography, unattended inspection, logistics transportation, security identification, and other industrial applications will be driven by the rapid development of 5G in the telecom sector, creating a strong foundation for China Telecom to explore new vertical industries. In tests on Gbps-level experience buses, 5G provided an average speed of more than 1 Gbps and a peak rate of 3 Gbps, allowing passengers to experience mobile 4K IPTV, 16-channel HD video streams, and VR applications while traveling. This paves the way for China Telecom’s plans of 5G and IPTV convergence.

To achieve its goal of connecting 50 5G sites by the end of 2018 while constructing its transport network, China Telecom Shenzhen upgraded its existing IP RAN to deploy and verify 5G technologies, enabling the co-existence of both 4G and 5G. In addition, the operator gained valuable engineering experience and developed scenario-based solutions for subsequent 5G construction.

Addressing 5G challenges for the smooth evolution of live networks

While bringing a wide variety of services, 5G also brings challenges in terms of bandwidth, latency, connections, and the slicing of transport networks. GNodeBs, however, deliver five to ten times more bandwidth than eNodeBs. 5G services such as Internet of Vehicles (IoV) require the latency to be one-tenth of what they are with 4G. In terms of connections, the cloudification of wireless and core networks brings full-mesh connections, requiring flexible scheduling on the transport network. In addition, 5G’s differentiated services require network slicing, with a focus on isolation and the automated management of network slices on transport networks. To cope with these challenges, China Telecom Shenzhen assessed the existing IP RAN, opting to upgrade and expand core and aggregation devices and replace specific access devices for 5G transport. To quickly deploy 5G services and fully reuse the existing network, China Telecom Shenzhen implemented the smooth evolution solution for the transport network in pilot areas.

Network upgrade for co-existence of 4G and 5G

The co-deployment of eNodeB and gNodeB is the optimal choice for transport networks, and China Telecom Shenzhen verified different co-existence solutions. Access ring devices can be upgraded and expanded to satisfy the requirements of 50GE ring networking and allow 4G and 5G services to share the same access ring. When access devices need to be replaced, China Telecom Shenzhen can establish a new 5G access ring, which can share the core and aggregation layer to achieve unified service bearing.

E2E large capacity to meet HD video transmission requirements

As China Telecom continues to explore 5G services, the convergence of 5G and IPTV has become its focus. To meet the requirements of 4K IPTV video transmission using 5G, the transport network must have large bandwidth transmission capabilities. China Telecom Shenzhen upgraded the access layer from an eNodeB GE ring to a 50GE ring, and upgraded the core and aggregation layer from a 10GE network to a 100GE network, allowing high-bandwidth connections between base stations and the core network.






Huawei has 22 commercial 5G contracts; U.S. government warns allies about the company

1.  Huawei has signed 22 commercial contracts for 5G as operators prepare for the commercial launch of the new technology.

The company’s executive director and president of carrier business group Ryan Ding made the announcement during a keynote speech at the Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in London.



During his speech, Ding noted that a number of operators are expediting 5G commercial deployment in order to secure the first mover advantage. Major countries representing a third of the global population are among the first adopters of the technology.

“So far, we have signed 22 commercial contracts for 5G, and we are working with over 50 carriers on 5G commercial tests,” Ding said.

“Through heavy investment and continuous innovation, we are committed to helping carriers deploy 5G networks easily, rapidly, and cost-effectively. And we are ready to work with all stakeholders to drive robust development of the 5G industry.”

Ding spoke of the technical capabilities of Huawei’s 4G/5G kit, such as an uplink and downlink decoupling that can achieve co-coverage of 4G and 5G using C-band spectrum, and the ability to offer end-to-end solutions meant it was an ideal partner for operators.Ding added that the first 5G smartphones will be available next year, and phone makers are expected to launch budget 5G phones priced at around $100 soon after the commercial roll-out of 5G networks.

He also mentioned the relatively small size and lightweight of Huawei’s wireless networking equipment. This will appeal to operators struggling to add more equipment to mobile sites, especially in urban areas

“Every new generation of network comes with new challenges, and this applies to 5G commercial deployment, too,” said Ding. “We take complexity and deliver simplicity. That means we will provide innovative solutions to address challenges in 5G commercialization. Our close collaboration with carriers will help them find the easy way to 5G.

“Huawei has earned customer recognition for our leading 5G end-to-end capabilities and innovative products and solutions. So far, we have signed 22 commercial contracts for 5G, and we are working with over 50 carriers on 5G commercial tests. Through heavy investment and continuous innovation, we are committed to helping carriers deploy 5G networks easily, rapidly, and cost-effectively. And we are ready to work with all stakeholders to drive robust development of the 5G industry.”

The 5G contracts could also be viewed as a vote of confidence in Huawei. It has effectively been frozen out of the U.S. and Australian markets due to national security fears, specifically that the use of its equipment risks the possibility of Chinese government backdoors.

–>The effort to ban Huawei is further described in 2. below.


2. U.S.  Asks Allies to Drop Huawei – worried about potential Chinese meddling in 5G networks, but foreign carriers may balk

WSJ article front page lead story on 23 November 2018

The U.S. government has initiated an extraordinary outreach campaign to foreign allies, trying to persuade wireless and internet service providers in these countries to avoid telecommunications equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the situation.

American officials have briefed their government counterparts and telecom executives in friendly countries where Huawei equipment is already in wide use, including Germany, Italy and Japan, about what they see as cybersecurity risks, these people said. The U.S. is also considering increasing financial aid for telecommunications development in countries that shun Chinese-made equipment, some of these people say.

One U.S. concern centers on the use of Chinese telecom equipment in countries that host American military bases, according to people familiar with the matter. The Defense Department has its own satellites and telecom network for especially sensitive communications, but most traffic at many military installations travels through commercial networks.

The initiative also coincides with rising tensions between Washington and Beijing on other fronts this year as the Trump administration moves to counter what some U.S. officials say they see as years of unbridled Chinese aggression. Washington has placed tariffs on some imports from China, drawing retaliation from Beijing. The U.S. has also tightened up foreign-investment rules targeting Chinese deal making.

Officials familiar with the current effort say concerns about telecom-network vulnerabilities predate the Trump era and reflect longstanding national-security worries.

The overseas push comes as wireless and internet providers around the world prepare to buy new hardware for 5G, the coming generation of mobile technology. 5G promises superfast connections that enable self-driving cars and the “Internet of Things,” in which factories and such everyday objects as heart monitors and sneakers are internet-connected.

U.S. officials say they worry about the prospect of Chinese telecom-equipment makers spying on or disabling connections to an exponentially growing universe of things, including components of manufacturing plants.

“We engage with countries around the world about our concerns regarding cyberthreats in telecommunications infrastructure,” a U.S. official said. “As they’re looking to move to 5G, we remind them of those concerns. There are additional complexities to 5G networks that make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.”

The briefings are aimed at dissuading governments and telecom executives from using Huawei network components in both government and commercially operated networks. A core focus of the briefings is Beijing’s ability to force Chinese corporations to comply with government requests from government authorities, a U.S. official said.

Some major carriers say Huawei’s broad offering of components, lower costs and high quality make it a difficult provider to do without.
Some major carriers say Huawei’s broad offering of components, lower costs and high quality make it a difficult provider to do without PHOTO:MICHAEL HANSON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The talking points also emphasize how wireless and internet networks in a few years could be more susceptible to cyberattacks or espionage, people familiar with the briefings said. Today’s cellular-tower equipment, for instance, is largely isolated from the “core” systems that transfer much of a network’s voice and data traffic. But in the 5G networks telecom carriers are preparing to install, cellular-tower hardware will take over some tasks from the core—and that hardware could potentially be used to disrupt the core via cyberattacks. For that reason, U.S. officials worry that Huawei or ZTE cellular-tower equipment could compromise swaths of a telecom network.

Huawei is the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker behind Samsung Electronics Co. It is the global leader for telecom equipment, such as the hardware that goes into cellular towers, internet networks and other infrastructure that enables modern communication.

Huawei has long said it is an employee-owned company and isn’t beholden to any government, and has never used its equipment to spy on or sabotage other countries. It said its equipment is as safe as that of Western competitors, such as Finland’s Nokia Corp. and Sweden’s Ericsson , because all manufacturers share common supply lines.

In a statement Friday, Huawei said it has its customers’ trust and was “surprised by the behaviors of the U.S. government” detailed in this article. “If a government’s behavior extends beyond its jurisdiction, such activity should not be encouraged,” it said.

The Trump administration and Congress this year initiated a multipronged push to tighten up restrictions on Huawei and other Chinese telecom-equipment manufacturers, including ZTE Corp. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, moved to restrict federal subsidies to some carriers if they buy Chinese gear.

Even without U.S. business, Huawei dominates the world’s telecom-equipment market. Last year, the company held a 22% share globally, according to research firm IHS Markit Ltd. Nokia had 13%, Ericsson had 11% and ZTE was in fourth at 10%.  Dell’Oro Group says Huawei has a 38% revenue market share in Asia Pacific, a 30% share in Europe, but only a 2% share in North America.

Some other members of the “Five Eyes,” a five-member intelligence pact among English-speaking countries that includes the U.S., have also publicly challenged Huawei. The Australian government in August banned Huawei and ZTE from its 5G networks. In October, U.K. authorities said they were reviewing the makeup of its telecom-equipment market, a move industry leaders said was clearly aimed at Huawei.

Still, there is a big hitch to U.S. efforts to curb Huawei overseas: The company is already popular among carriers in allied countries, including some of America’s closest military partners. Some major carriers in these places say Huawei offers the most products and often customizes them to fit a carrier’s needs. They also cite lower costs and high quality.

In an effort to narrow that advantage in some countries, Washington is considering ways to increase funding from various U.S. government sources to subsidize the purchase and use of non-Chinese equipment, according to people familiar with the matter. Countries buying Chinese telecommunications equipment would be ineligible for such subsidies.

In the past year, U.S. officials, including representatives from the National Security Council and Commerce, Defense and State departments, worked together to produce briefing notes about why they believe Chinese telecom equipment poses national-security risks, people familiar with the matter said. One U.S. government official said they focused on Huawei but also included ZTE, a Chinese rival with a much smaller business outside China.  A ZTE representative declined to comment on the U.S. effort.

Washington has circulated the notes to national-security officials as well as to embassies, with the idea that they can deliver the message to foreign officials and telecom executives, some of the people said.

A spokesman for the Commerce Department said it would “remain vigilant against any threat to U.S. national security.” Spokesmen for the National Security Council and the State Department declined to comment. The Defense Department didn’t return a request for comment.

U.S. officials have briefed counterparts in Germany, which has signaled a new wariness toward Huawei, according to people familiar with the matter. Huawei this month opened a lab in Germany similar to one it already operates in Britain, where Huawei products are inspected for security flaws. The U.K. government said in July it found shortcomings in the process.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security declined to comment.

American officials have also briefed Japanese officials about Huawei, people familiar with the matter said. A Japanese government official said “we share various information with the U.S.,” but declined to comment on specifics. Japanese officials in August said they were studying restrictions on Huawei.

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Huawei launches “5G Power Solution” for global wireless telcos

Huawei has launched what it says is the industry’s first full-range 5G power solutions for wireless network operators which will address an expected 100% increase in 5G energy consumption when compared to 4G power dissipation.

The 5G Power series of products are designed to deliver an end-to-end, scalable energy solution for both newly built and upgradeable cell sites.

It has been designed utilizing technology including peak shaving, linked voltage boosting and energy slicing to provide a ‘one site one cabinet’ design.

Huawei said its research suggests that more than 70% of cell sites will face challenges such as insufficient power, battery and distribution capacity, and more than 30% of sites need grid modernization to match the power demands of 5G.  Its solution has been designed to help network operators reduce capex and opex while improving energy reliability to meet the high reliability and low latency requirements of future mobile applications.

Huawei launched 5G Power series solutions to ensure that energy evolution is simpler, more reliable and more efficient in the 5G network process.  Huawei believes that site synergy, network synergy, business synergy will be the direction for telecom energy in the future.

From its press release (reference below):

With the design concept of ‘one site, one cabinet’ and ‘one band, one blade power,’ Huawei’s new Power Solution adopts innovative technology of peak shaving, linked voltage boosting and energy slicing, and fully considers the capacity expansion of cooling and battery backup. Facing the capacity expansion requirement in the future, Huawei Power Solution enables carriers to avoid energy modernization and get 5G network overlaid quickly.

“Based on our deep understanding of pain points carriers are facing in the progress of network evolving, Huawei 5G Power Solution achieve end-to-end synergy from wireless network to telecom energy, which will further enable carriers to build networks quickly, reduce site energy consumption, and maximize their investment value,” Huawei president of telecom energy Tao Hongming said.

“As a telecom energy supplier who is able to provide end-to-end ICT solutions, Huawei is willing to work with carriers and industry partners on continuous innovation and exploration, and jointly solve the energy challenges in 5G era,” Tao added.



BT’s EE Launches 5G Test Network in London using Huawei Equipment

BT-owned mobile operator EE has launched a 5G test network in Canary Wharf, London ahead of a full commercial rollout next year.  As the cUK’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, the launch by EE is a landmark moment in the UK’s path to 5G.

Fotis Karonis, 5G Technology Lead at BT Group, said:

“This is the latest milestone in our 5G rollout – a live test of our 5G network, in a hugely busy ‘hotspot’, where we know there’s going to be demand from customers for increased mobile capacity.

With constant upgrades to 4G, and laying the foundations for 5G, we’re working to always be able to deliver what our customers need – both consumers and the vertical industries that will make the greatest use of 5G.

We were UK pioneers with 4G and today we saw the UK’s first live connections on 5G – this is a huge step forward for our digital infrastructure.”

EE announced it would be launching the 5G network back in June, promising it to be the UK’s first proper test. Some expected mobile operator O2 to beat it after plans to launch its own test bed at the O2 Arena, but EE was first to market.

The current network covers Montgomery Square in Canary Wharf and was selected by EE for its high footfall and data usage. Some 150,000 people visit the square each day, providing a better test of how the network will perform in high traffic areas.

Mark Nallen, Head of Technology and Innovation at Canary Wharf Group, commented:

“Staying at the forefront of connectivity and new technologies is critical to our community, and that’s why we’re partnering with BT Group to support delivery of 5G.

The consumers who live and work here will benefit from being better connected, and the enterprises based here will have the chance to partner with BT Group to understand the full capabilities of 5G.”

The equipment at the site will also be hooked up to a lab core network, which functions as  a replica of EE’s commercial core network, and will link up to other test sites as and when they come online. Walling it off also means that it’s possible to test 5G in whatever ways are necessary without having any impact on existing services.

Another testbed is set to launch in Shoreditch later this year, which will present different challenges to the Montgomery Square tests. Mainly because it isn’t as ‘clean’ an area. Exactly when it will happen isn’t clear yet.

EE is using network equipment by Huawei for its test; along with 3.4 GHz spectrum it won in regulator Ofcom’s auction earlier this year.  The use of Huawei’s equipment continues to be a controversial subject.

In Europe, Huawei is relatively welcome and its highly-regarded equipment used by many operators. Australia, however, recently took the decision to follow the U.S. in banning the Chinese vendor’s equipment over national security concerns.

The U.S. and Australia are part of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence sharing partnership which also includes the UK, Canada, and New Zealand. The US is said to be pressuring its partners to follow suit.

Last month, Canadian security officials went on record to say the country has the necessary safeguards in place not to follow the bans of the US and Australia.  Canada is attempting to make the case to its partners that excluding telecoms equipment manufacturers leads to an increased security risk. If a specific vendor’s equipment is compromised, it would represent a larger proportion of the network.

Rather than ban Huawei, the UK and Canada have both established labs where security officials test equipment for potential vulnerabilities.

Testing equipment rather than banning seems to be a more sensible approach. This week, India announced it would be testing Huawei 5G gear. Competition is good for prices and innovation, while bans would prevent companies such as EE from accessing potentially class-leading equipment.




Huawei introduces 5G-ready (7nm process) mobile chipset: Kirin 980 and Mali-G76

Huawei on Friday unveiled the world’s first “5G solution-ready” commercial 7nm (nanometre) chipset–the Kirin 980, which is believed to be the most powerful smartphone SoC (system-on-a-chip) equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities.  The company has now proven itself as a leader in telecom/network equipment, smart phones and now ultra large scale integrated circuits/System on a Chip (SoC).

“It looks smaller than my nail, but it is the most powerful and intelligent SoC chipset for smartphones introduced so far,” Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu said while unveiling the chipset to a packed audience at the IFA 2018 in Berlin.  Yu confirmed that the first smartphone to be powered by the Kirin 980 chipset will be Huwaei’s Mate 20 series which is expected to be launched next month.

Based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Company’s (TSMC) 7nm semiconductor process, Kirin 980 delivers 20 per cent improved SoC performance and 40 per cent more efficiency, said Huawei which surpassed Apple to become the second-largest global smartphone seller behind Samsung in the second quarter of this year.

“The Kirin 980 will be used in smartphones and tablets. Huawei will launch 5G device powered by Kirin 980 next year,” Benjamin Wang, Deputy General Manager, Wireless Chipset Business Unit, Huawei Consumer Business Group, told reporters.

“Last year, we showed the world the potential of on-device AI with the Kirin 970 and this year, we’ve designed an all-round powerhouse that not only features outstanding AI capabilities, but also brings cutting-edge raw performance to consumers,” Yu told the gathering, adding that the new SoC is equipped with dual NPU (Neural Processing Unit).

“The Kirin 980 is the ultimate engine to power the next-generation productivity and entertainment applications,” Yu added.

The TSMC 7nm process technology enables Kirin 980 to pack 6.9 billion transistors within a “1 square cm die size”, up by 1.6 times from the previous generation.

The Kirin 980 is also the first SoC to embed Cortex-A76 cores, which are 75 per cent more powerful and 58 per cent more efficient compared to their previous generation.

In an octa-core configuration, the CPU in Kirin 980 is comprised of two high-performance Cortex-A76 cores; two high-efficiency Cortex-A76 cores; and two extreme efficiency Cortex-A55 cores, the company said.  Running at higher clock speeds compared to the prior generation, Kirin 980 enables quicker app launch times, better multi-tasking and a generally smoother user experience, Huawei added.

As graphics in mobile games have become more and more sophisticated in recent years, Huawei has integrated the Mali-G76 GPU (graphics processing unit) into the Kirin 980 to deliver improved gaming experiences.

Debuting with the Kirin 980 chip, Mali-G76 offers 46 per cent greater graphics processing power at 178 per cent improved power efficiency over the previous generation, according to Huawei.  Mali-G76 utilizes AI to intelligently identify gaming workloads and adjust resource allocation for optimal gaming performance.

Kirin 980 supports common AI frameworks such as Caffee, Tensorflow and Tensorflow Lite, and provides a suite of tools that simplifies the difficulty of engineering on-device AI, allowing developers to easily tap into the leading processing power of the dual NPU.

Kirin 980 adopts a new pipeline dedicated to processing video captures, allowing the camera module to shoot videos with 33 percent shorter delay, Huawei informed.

Huawei also launched at IFA 2018 AI Cube, its home speaker with 4G router and built-in Alexa that can perform several tasks such turning on the TV or playing music.  The company also introduced new colors and “genuine Italian leather variants of its Huawei P20 Pro phones.

In addition, Yu also introduced the Huawei Locator powered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology that can help people easily locate their belongings, be it their luggage or pets.


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Huawei and ZTE Banned from Australian 5G Deployments

Continuing a trend in the English speaking world, Huawei and ZTE have been banned from providing wireless network technology for Australia’s 5G rollouts.  In a tweet, Huawei said it has been informed of the ban by the Australian government.  The Trump administration. recently banned U.S. government agencies or contractors from using most equipment provided by Huawei and ZTE and also banned the sale of mobile phones from those Chinese companies.

“This is an extremely disappointing result for consumers. Huawei is a world leader in 5G. Has safely and securely delivered wireless technology in Australia for close to 15 years,” Huawei wrote in its tweet.

The confirmation of the ban came after Australian minister for communications Mitch Fifield and treasurer and acting minister for home affairs Scott Morrison revealed in a joint statement that the government has provided “5G security guidance to Australian carriers.”   The Australian ministers have invoked the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR) obligations that among other things empower the government to compel operators to protect their networks against threats to national security.

While their statement did not mention any vendors by name, the ministers said that “the government considers that the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorized access or interference.”

To justify banning Huawei and ZTE from their involvement in 5G rollouts despite their prominent roles in the deployments of 3G and 4G networks, the ministers said that 5G will require a network architecture that is significantly different from previous mobile generations.

“Where previous mobile networks featured clear functional divisions between the core and the edge, 5G is designed so that sensitive functions currently performed in the physically and logically separated core will gradually move closer to the edge of the network,” they said.

“This new architecture provides a way to circumvent traditional security controls by exploiting equipment in the edge of the network – exploitation which may affect overall network integrity and availability, as well as the confidentiality of customer data… Government has found no combination of technical security controls that sufficiently mitigate the risks.”

The Australian government has been rumored for some time to be considering banning Huawei 5G rollouts.  However, due in part to the absence of evidence of any national security threat, some experts believe the ban is more motivated by politics than national security.

Huawei was also previously banned from providing equipment for the rollout of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN).  Meanwhile, the U.S. has warned Canada about purchasing network equipment from Huawei and ZTE.


Huawei Diminished Expectations for 5G; Struggles in U.S. vs Booming Business Elsewhere

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’s Struggles in the U.S. vs. Booming Business Elsewhere

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.”

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Huawei’s growth due to increased smartphone sales (but not in U.S.); China to lead world in 5G handsets

In an annual business report meeting with journalists in late March at the company’s Shenzhen, China headquarters, Huawei reported that its total revenue grew 15.7%, to $92.5 billion, in 2017. More impressive, net profit grew 28.1%, to $7.3 billion, a huge improvement over 2016’s 0.4% rate.   Privately owned Huawei gets most of its revenue now from selling telecom/network equipment, which generated roughly $47 billion over the past year.  While that was only a 3% growth rate, the Chinese company enjoyed a 35.1% growth in its enterprise business unit, which includes cloud computing and big data, though the overall revenue of $8.7 billion is relatively small.

Until 2020 (or later), when”5G” is deployed by carriers using Huawei base stations, the company’s fastest growing and most visibly prominent area is and will be its smartphones.

Huawei’s Deputy Chairwoman and Chief Financial Officer Sabrina Meng, along with CEO Ken Hu, recently told reporters how the company managed to increase net profits and net profit margins at a rate higher than total revenue growth.   The company became more efficient at growing smartphone sales. “In 2016, one of the biggest areas that dragged consumer business group profits down were the high cost of components,” said Meng. “So we developed a better supply management chain and improved our working relationships with vendors.”  Hu added that whether it’s brand image with consumers or phone units sold, Huawei made significant improvements in 2017. According to data released to the media, Huawei and sub-brand Honor combined to sell 153 million handsets in 2017, generating $37.85 billion in sales.  The smartphone market is arguably the most competitive industry in all of consumer business with many players jockeying for a small market share behind kingpins Samsung and Apple.


Ben Sin of Forbes recently wrote, “the Huawei P20 Pro is the new low light photography king (of smartphones), and it’s not even close right now.”  It’s even  better than the Samsung Galaxy S9+ which received excellent reviews from journalists that tested it.    The Huawei P20 Pro.  Photo courtesy of Forbes.com:

The Huawei P20 Pro has a 6.1-inch display with an 18.7:9 aspect ratio. The screen’s unusually tall aspect ratio makes the phone very easy to hold and reach across, and the panel is an OLED from Samsung, so it’s very good. The resolution here is just 1080p so technically it isn’t as crisp as the Quad HD found on other Android flagships, but frankly it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the OLED panel on the P20 Pro just doesn’t get as bright as the panel on the Galaxy S9. I suspect Huawei’s Samsung OLED panel is a generation behind the ones used on the S9. The back of the handset is crafted out of glass, and it attracts fingerprints just as much as Samsung or LG phones. The P20 Pro ships in colors that are a bit different from the norm, including an eye-catching Twilight color with a gradient finish. The phone also comes in black or this pinkish gold color.

The triple camera set-up includes: a 40-megapixel RGB lens, 20-megapixel monochrome lens, and an 8-megapixel telephoto lens. Huawei has used the RGB+monochrome combo for its phones since 2016, so the new addition here is the telephoto lens, which offer lossless optical zoom. The optical lens is a 3X zoom compared to the Apple iPhone X’s 2X zoom.


U.S. Market Difficult to Enter for Huawei, ZTE and other China based Companies:

As the U.S. government, and more recently AT&T and Verizon, have taken numerous steps over the years to prevent Huawei from entering its market.  Xiang Ligang, a telecom veteran and CEO of the industry website Cctime, said it has become increasingly challenging for Chinese telecom companies to do business in the U.S. amid heightened concerns over national security.

“The U.S. is a market Chinese companies must conquer if they want to become global players. But now politics rather than technology or products is playing a bigger role in their business prospects in the U.S.,” Xiang said.  He also opined that China’s handset producers have an edge in developing 5G terminal devices compared with their U.S. competitors.  “In terms of the research and innovation ability, the global top four telecom equipment suppliers are Huawei, Ericsson, ZTE and Nokia… two out of the four are Chinese technology giants and we could barely name a U.S. company,” he said. “Without 5G-capable terminal devices, you cannot access a 5G network.”   Xiang believes this year will be a watershed for China’s 5G technology development.  He thinks the final testing of “basic 5G” technologies will be completed (this author disagrees and things that won’t be before 2021), paving the way for the next phase of development – 5G products such as terminal devices (e.g. smartphones, other handsets, IoT devices, etc).

In addition to compatible terminal devices, China’s investment in 5G infrastructure also bodes well for its position in the intensifying global competition.  Under the guidelines of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s three State-owned network operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – have each announced plans to begin building 5G networks this year in at least five cities. China Mobile said in February that it may be able to offer a full 5G service by the end of 2019, a year ahead of the 2020 goal, thanks to a technology known as “slicing packet networks,” which help operators to manage network architectures, bandwidth, traffic, latency and time synchronization, said another Xinhua report.

Huawei, failed to get its smartphones sold in the local carrier retailing channel, which accounts for a majority of smartphone sales in the US. Verizon Communications Inc has dropped all plans to sell Huawei’ s phones, while AT&T Inc also walked away from a similar deal at the last minute under pressure from the U.S. government, according to a Bloomberg report.


Sidebar:   Top Smartphone Makers

Currently, Chinese companies account for 7 of the world’s top 10 smartphone vendors (see top 10 below), but in the U.S., only one Chinese brand stood out – ZTE Corp grabbing a market share of 12 percent. “Such contrast is a result of multiple factors, and political concern is certainly one of them,” Xiang said.  As a result, Huawei will likely focus on increasing smartphone sales in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

According to marketing91, the top 10 smart phone makers in 2017 were:  1) Samsung 2) Apple 3) Huawei 4) Lenovo 5) Xiaomi 6) LG 7) ZTE 8) Oppo 9) Alcatel 10) Vivo


Looking for Future Growth:

This year marks Huawei‘s 30th birthday.  Following the general Chinese idea that age 30 is when a boy truly becomes a man, the company is looking for new growth opportunities.

“As we look to 2018, emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and 5G will soon see large-scale application,” said Hu. “Throughout this process, Huawei will . . . pay special attention to the practical challenges that our customers face as they go digital. Our job is to help them overcome these challenges and achieve business success. Ultimately, we aim to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.”

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