Partner Interview: Ahead of GSMA’s Mobile 360 Middle East event in Dubai, Mobile World Live spoke to Qiu Heng, president of wireless marketing operations, wireless network product line at Huawei, who outlined the company’s vision for 5G and its role in enabling the Internet of Things. Heng also offers his views on what is required for 5G to achieve global success, and Huawei’s own evolution strategy.

MWL: What is 5G?
qiuQui Heng: 5G (5th generation mobile networks or 5th generation wireless systems) denotes the proposed next major phase of mobile telecommunications technologies. It presents a shift to enabling connections between things in the Internet of Things (IoT), and support of ultra-reliable and low-latency communications. 5G is not one single wireless access technology; nor is it a group of new technologies. Rather, it is an umbrella term for a set of solutions that integrate multiple new technologies with multiple existing technologies.

MWL: What are 5G use cases?
Qui Heng: Huawei has defined a “HyperService Cube” of key scenarios from the worlds of work and leisure. They cover hyper-connected IoT, industry applications (car, healthcare, industrial automation and robotics), and device ad hoc networks. Examples include self-driving vehicles, ultra HD video, virtual reality, healthcare, smart home, and everything-to-everything smart sensors.

MWL: When will 5G be available?
Qui Heng: 5G technology is still in the early, standard-setting phase. Work on 5G standards has just begun, and the industry is expecting commercial deployment by around 2020. But globally, Huawei has already partnered with many organisations to jointly showcase the future of 5G services to the public. We have signed numerous MoUs with leading telecom operators to explore 5G broadband services, including in the Middle East.

Working with industry partners, Huawei is also a key contributor to the European 5G Public Private Partnership (5GPPP) initiative and is currently working on five co-funded projects. Huawei is also a board member of METIS (Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the Twenty-twenty Information Society) and IMT-2020, and key founder of 5GIC (5G Innovation Center), and 5GVIA (5G Vertical Industry Accelerator).

Huawei and partners founded 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) in Munich, September 27, 2016.

MWL: What are the key factors to achieve global 5G success?
Qui Heng: Global 5G success lies in three key success factors:

Unified standard: Huawei follows 3GPP standardisation to avoid fragmentation. Study Item began in 3GPP R14 (2016); standards to be frozen in 2018.

Key technology development: Huawei actually started 5G research in 2009; a time when few others were considering such a vision. From an R&D perspective, we have and are continuing to spend considerable funds on 5G advances, particularly in technical areas like air interface and test bed developments. By 2018, Huawei will have invested at least US$600 million in 5G research and innovation. Today, Huawei has over 1000 research scientists working on 5G research, and has established 11 5G research centers around the globe. As of March 2016, Huawei has published over 250 papers on 5G, and has been awarded 1,173 patents on the topic.

Global collaboration:
Open collaboration: Huawei works with partners in many industries around the world. Huawei has over 30 5G partnerships, and is an active member of organisations such as 5GPPP, China IMT-2020 Promotion Group, and 3GPP.
Industry engagement: As part of its process of supporting a 5G industry Huawei engages with the telecom industry. Huawei organised the 5G@Canada, 5G@Europe, and 5G@Asia summits, where partners from the EU, equipment vendors, leading European mobile carriers, and partners in other industries discussed 5G trends and their vision for the future of the industry.

MWL: What needs to be done before evolving to 5G?
Qui Heng: I believe in order to embrace this new era, joint collaboration is required among all the industry’s key players, including government and operators.

Increased connectivity: According to Huawei GCI, the connections among 7 billion people will only account for 10 per cent of the global total connections by 2025. The majority of connections will be between people and things, and between things and things. Today, 99 per cent of equipment is unconnected to the Internet. So the first thing we should do is to increase connectivity.

More and global spectrum availability: Sub6GHz will be the Primary Bands of 5G

Enable digital transformation: Policies set the direction of digital transformation, and form the legal basis for a nation to act. Incentives set the speed and depth of change and institutions drive change, provide governance, and monitor progress.

MWL: Finally, what is Huawei’s 5G evolution strategy?
Qui Heng: 5G commercialisation will go through 4.5G, which will enhance existing 4G technologies and pave the way to step by step evolution towards 5G. The first 4.5G networks will start to go live in 2016. It opens the Giga World while expanding new business opportunities, with IoT and NB-IoT.