Huawei jumps on 5G bandwagon

Chinese equipment vendor Huawei has been elected to join the board of the 5G Infrastructure Association in Europe at a general assembly held in Bologna last week. The company will be represented on the board by Dr. David Soldani of Huawei’s European Research Centre.

The 5G Infrastructure Association represents the private party of the 5G Public and Private Partnership (5G-PPP),a €1.4bn joint initiative between the European ICT industry and the European Commission, aiming at standardising, defining and developing the next generation of communication networks.

Huawei said it will place significant effort in driving 5G foundational technology research, tests and large scale trials in collaboration with partners to assess the technical feasibility and business viability of new technologies, as well as contributing to shaping European Union (EU) priorities in 5G research and extending the dialogue to a wider group of stakeholders.

The standards for 5G are still undefined but early adopters are already appearing. In mid-May, Japanese carrier NTT Docomo farmed out contracts to several vendors in order to pilot 5G technologies.

Japan, like South Korea, has a very advanced mobile market and while not always the first to deploy new technologies, typically sees very rapid adoption and subsequent saturation. South Korea is expected to have a pilot 5G network available for the Winter Olympics in 2018 and commercial offerings by 2020, while Japan is also aiming for a 2020 launch of the technology.

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“5G studies are starting to gain real momentum as we point toward 2020. We appreciate that 5G will provide significant performance enhancements to support future new applications that will impact both users and industry,” said Seizo Onoe, executive vice president and CTO at NTT Docomo, commenting on the pilot.

Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung have all been selected to work on a 5G proof of concept system for Docomo, using the 15GHz frequency band for the air interface as well as exploring the potential of millimeter wave technology in the 70GHz spectrum band.

With 5G standards so undefined at present there is a considerable focus on access network technologies mainly as an evolution to what has been seen in LTE and LTE-Advanced. According to Dr Shahram G Niri, general manager of the 5GIC (5G Innovation Centre) at the University of Surrey in the UK, driving more data through the scarce, finite and expensive radio spectrum is the real challenge. “I therefore believe a new RAN becomes the main agenda for 5G,” he says.

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