Huawei chief downplays 5G expectations

19 Apr 2018

Eric Xu, rotating chairman of Huawei, has downplayed the expectations on 5G, warning that consumers will not likely see a fundamental difference between 5G and 4G.

“Over the last couple years the entire industry, especially governments around the world, regards 5G too high, as if it’s a digital infrastructure for everything, Xu told attendees at Huawei’s Analyst Summit in Shenzhen on Tuesday.

He said Huawei did have expectations on 5G, but they were not as big as some people might think. “[5G]It’s just a natural evolution of technology, from 2G to 3G to 4G, and now 5G,” he said. “If you look across the entire portfolio of Huawei business, 5G is just one product.”

“We’re going to have 5G, but you don’t have a fundamental difference between 5G and 4G… you don’t’ have a material difference between 4G and 5G.” he said

For the average consumer, he noted, they would only perceive a difference in speed.

He pointed out that the full 3GPP Release 15 - 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. Only until 2019 will the industry have full 5G-compliant standards that cover massive connectivity and lower latency.

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.

That said, Xu is not expecting 5G to be used for nationwide coverage, 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.”

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