LIVE FROM HUAWEI GLOBAL MBB FORUM 2018, LONDON: Ryan Ding, president of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group (pictured), claimed in his keynote speech that the 22 commercial 5G contracts won by the Chinese company is evidence of the industry’s confidence in its smartphone and network kit portfolio.

“Actions speak louder than words”, said Ding. “5G is on. 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.”

Ding tipped 5G smartphones to become available in 2019, including 5G foldable phones that will create new experiences for users. He expects leading phone manufacturers to launch budget phones (priced around US$100) soon after the commercial roll-out of 5G networks, driving the industry forward.

Ding’s comments follow praise from its operator customers at the event today. In a 5G City panel, Neil McRae, MD and chief architect at BT, and Manuel Sanchez Malagon, network planning director at Orange Spain, complimented Huawei for its role in the development of 5G.

The Orange executive said Huawei’s global reach meant it was best positioned to share experiences and provide an exchange of information, which is “the essence” of developing the technology and building use cases.

McRae, meanwhile, took a potshot at rival vendors, insisting that “Huawei is the world’s one true 5G supplier”.

“The other guys are behind and they need to catch up. The challenge for other network providers is to learn from Huawei,” he said.

5 key challenges
Also in his keynote Ding stressed that the industry must address several challenges if 5G is to achieve its potential to create whole new revenue streams around selling low latency services.

Ding said the expected pace of uptake of 5G would be faster than both 3G and 4G, a factor which makes it essential to swiftly address network deployment challenges.

“The ICT industry is an exciting industry, but our new generation of networks also [mean] we are facing a lot of new challenges,” he noted, highlighting five key areas the company identified as problematic while working with operator partners: the size of Massive MIMO and limitations of traditional technology to support it; acquiring sites to house infrastructure and associated high rental costs; power-inefficient site facilities; inadequate coverage of high-frequency bands; and growing network complexity from simultaneously delivering 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.

Many of these issues, Ding said, could be solved by adopting newly developed space- and power-efficient network solutions rather than relying on traditional methods.

Fresh approaches
During the session, Ding also noted new opportunities would be opened following the launch of 5G.

“Carriers could begin to explore more and more new business models,” he said, adding: “In the past when we looked at business models in the mobile industry, we mainly focused on traffic, connection and you sometimes could monetise the speed.”

“Another key factor we should consider is latency. One business model for latency could be mobile gaming. This is becoming more and more popular. Take for example [a game about] car racing, a few milliseconds could decide victory or defeat. So carriers could offer a lower latency package to users.”