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Huawei's lead in 5G draws inspiration from Galileo; urges unified standards

Huawei • 4 min read
Huawei's lead in 5G draws inspiration from Galileo; urges unified standards
Huawei did not invent mobile technology, but after making very significant investments in people and resources for the past decade, Huawei has emerged as the industry leader in the 5G world.
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(July 17): Early 17th-century Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei did not invent the telescope, but with his deep knowledge in maths, physics and engineering, he was able to create a telescope with a 30 times magnification. Seen through this invention, the frontiers of knowledge were pushed, long-held perceptions were changed, and, the universe, became closer.

In the same vein, Huawei did not invent mobile technology, but after making very significant investments in people and resources for the past decade, Huawei has emerged as the industry leader in the 5G world.

Inspired by Galileo’s pioneering achievements in science and technology, Huawei has named its spanking new 5G exhibition area the Huawei Galileo Hall, which is being used to showcase three key features of what makes a 5G network: large bandwidth, low latency and massive connections.

Visitors touring the hall will not just be fed with technical specifications of what a “5G” is: 20 Gbit/s peak data rate, 1 millisecond end-to-end latency, 100 times the network energy efficiency, and one million connections per sq km.

Instead, from the exhibits, they will have a better appreciation of what is beyond these technical specifications via demonstrations of three “use case families”: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine-Type Communication (mMTC), and Ultra-Reliable and Low-Latency Communications (URLLC).

In turn, with these capabilities, 5G technology can then be used to develop a wide range of new industrial applications such as intelligent connected vehicles, smart factories, smart healthcare, smart grids, smart education, urban security, drones, smart agriculture, and smart new media. No longer is just mobile technology limited to person-to-person communication.

By any measure, Huawei has invested some serious money funding its 5G R&D. Between 2009 to 2019, the total amount spent in this endeavour, excluding 5G devices, totalled some US$4 billion ($5.6 billion).

Notably, Huawei’s 5G R&D efforts were not concentrated in its headquarters in Shenzhen. A total of nine 5G standards and research centres are operating worldwide, have more than 500 experts working on standards, and hold positions in over 100 standards organisations.

Huawei’s leading position within the 5G ecosystem was affirmed recently by a study done jointly by GreyB Services, a technology research firm and analytics firm Amplified AI.

Citing data from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, a total of 12,002 patent families related to 5G have been declared. Out of this number, six companies, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, Finland’s Nokia, Sweden’s Ericsson and Qualcomm from the US and of course, Huawei, accounted for 71% of the patent families declared.

Within these six companies, Huawei led the pack with a total of 2,386 patents declared, or around 20% of the total. Ericsson, LG and Samsung are almost neck-in-neck with one another, but a significant distance behind. They have a total of 1,350; 1,388 and 1,353 patents declared respectively.

Separately, Huawei has since 2009 submitted some 23,600 contributions to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, which is an umbrella term for a number of standards organizations that are developing protocols used by mobile communications.

Regardless of which set of numbers, the message is clear: Huawei is leading in 5G. According to public comments made by some CEOs and CTOs of European mobile operators, they believe that without Huawei, the commercial deployment of 5G networks in Europe would be delayed by two to three years.

Now, as Huawei plays a key role in the mobile networking industry, it is urging other vendors and the industry at large to develop a unified technical standard. In his address on May 18, Huawei’s chairman Guo Ping warns that fragmented standards and supply chains benefit no one. “The industry will pay a terrible price,” he said.

Thankfully, the mobile industry, as a whole, has been moving in the right direction. The first generation, or so-called 1G networks, were bogged down by nearly a dozen different standards. The subsequent 2G and 3G networks were still being fought over by a handful of competing standards. The fragmented state of things finally improved significantly with 4G. From Huawei’s perspective, the transition to 5G is an opportunity for a global, unified standard to be jointly implemented.

The company is committed to its continuous investment towards the growth of the ecosystem. It will continue to do so via open collaboration. “Huawei will work with partners and further the progress of this industry, and explore the future together,” said Guo.

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