UPDATE 18/4 – LIVE FROM HUAWEI ANALYST SUMMIT, SHENZHEN: The entire industry and governments around the world have regarded 5G too highly, to the extent it will be the digital infrastructure for everything, Eric Xu, Huawei’s rotating chairman (pictured), argued.

“We do have expectations on 5G, but maybe those expectations are not as big as some people might think,” he said in his keynote. “5G is just one product line at Huawei. It is a just a natural evolution of the technology from 2G to 3G to 4G and now 5G.”

He noted there is no fundamental difference between 4G and 5G – for consumers it just about faster speeds: “We don’t have other material differences in experiences for the consumer between the two technologies.”

Xu said 3GPP Release 15 only addresses part of future 5G use cases, mainly enhanced mobile broadband for consumers. Only by 2019 will the industry have 5G-compliant solutions that also cover massive connectivity and the low-latency part. He doesn’t see many clear use cases for applications which can only be supported with 5G.

Edward Gubbins, senior analyst covering telecom technology and software at GlobalData, noted Xu’s comments “contrast sharply” with Huawei’s rivals.

Initial deployments
Xu noted 4G infrastructure is pretty robust, so Huawei doesn’t expect 5G to be used for national coverage to start with. Instead, the technology will be targeted at dense areas where network resources are not sufficient, or to meet growing demand from consumers for more bandwidth, he said.

“But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to invest in 5G. We are fully committed to 5G investment, and by the second half of this year we’re going to launch an end-to-end 5G solution,” he explained.

He declined to comment on moves in the US to restrict access to China-made smartphones and telecoms infrastructure due to security concerns, but said its positioning in the US market has not changed: “We’re focused on what we can do and providing better services to our customers.”