Ren Zhengfei, Huawei founder and CEO (pictured), added detail to his proposal to licence its 5G technology, indicating he wants to transfer exclusive rights to create a US-based champion.

“I think it should be a US company,” he said in a briefing, noting Europe has 5G suppliers, and Japan and South Korea have relevant technologies, but the US is not involved in the development.

After receiving the licence, the company “should be able compete with us around the world, not just confined to the US market. It would put them at the same starting line and on a level playing field”.

Ren floated the idea of licensing its 5G technology earlier this month: asked if there had been any interest since, he merely chuckled.

He said it took hundreds of companies 20 years to develop the unified 5G standard, so different countries can connect with each other under one framework. “I don’t support the idea of technology being decoupled. It doesn’t make sense.”

Ren believes the possibility of having two technology camps is very slim: “No company can be independent from each other. And no country or company alone can create an independent ecosystem.”

He insisted Huawei doesn’t want to be fully independent in the supply chain, explaining that in the short-term it may have to use more of its own technology but, over time, “our view is to embrace the world and collaborate with partners”.

Huawei expects US companies to resume component shipments “as we’ve been working with them for three decades”, he stated.

Its output of 5G base stations is just gearing up, with 5,000 units a month. Mass production will start in October, with 1.3 million base stations produced in 2020.

Nurturing competition
Ren is not concerned the company could lose its 5G leadership or experience a drop in sales if it proceeds with the licensing move, noting it would generate revenue from transferring the technology, which could fund future investment.

He also believes nurturing industry competition would push its employees, giving them a sense of urgency so “they don’t become complacent”.

“I don’t see competition as a threat, but as a driver to push us to the next level.”

Ren said it is conducting parallel research on 5G and 6G, which is just getting started with the focus mostly on mmWave. “It’s still the early phase and there’s a long way to go – it’s ten years out.”