LIVE FROM MWC19 SHANGHAI: Qualcomm believes the rollout of 5G has placed China at the frontline of mobile technology evolution for the first time, with operators rapidly moving towards launches later this year and handset makers readying compatible devices.

Frank Meng, chairman of Qualcomm China (pictured), noted the country was behind other markets in launching 3G and 4G technologies. But, with the government issuing licences earlier this month, operators “are launching 5G this year”, putting it on par with the global trend.

Operator moves have spurred the broader ecosystem of Chinese companies including handset makers and equipment vendors, which will deliver “very solid growth” for 5G domestically and internationally, and create opportunities for all industries expected to use the next-generation technology.

“So, China provides a very positive future,” Meng explained.

Disruption and devices
The executive acknowledged there remain questions around what 5G means for society and the future. It will usher in an “age when everything is intelligently linked together”, meaning the industry must swiftly innovate to keep pace with the “unprecedented revolution to come”.

Together with AI, 5G will “support new business formats, it’s going to reshape a lot of business sectors”, Meng noted. AI will enable companies to use in “a real-time way all the massive volumes of data generated by machines and devices”. It will “give rise to a lot of disruptive experiences”.

Of course, Meng did not overlook Qualcomm China’s role, noting it had built on leadership in 3G and 4G technologies to establish a prominent position in 5G development.

It has worked closely with Chinese phone makers including Lenovo, OnePlus, Vivo, Xiaomi and ZTE to ensure good availability of compatible devices.

When 4G was deployed, there were “only four global carriers and three terminal makers”, he noted. “This year, beginning of 5G in the world, more than 20 different operators have launched globally and more than 20 mobile device makers” have either launched products, or plan to do so in the back half of the year.

“As long as local regions have plans for 5G, you can find a Chinese presence”, he said.