In contrast to many in the wireless industry, especially OEMs, Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu made an effort to downplay his company’s expectations for 5G technology last week at the Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2018 in Shenzhen, China.
Calling 5G “just one product,” Xu went on to say there is “no big difference between 5G and 4G. Compared to 4G, 5G is just faster, carries more connections, and the latency is lower.”
Beyond enjoying higher data speeds, the user will not notice much with the introduction of 5G, according to Xu, who added that 5G has been “deified” by the wireless industry and government without really knowing the use cases.
“And because 4G network today is very good, we don’t see clear applications that can only be supported with 5G,” Xu said. “So 5G won’t start as a full-fledged, national network, but in dense urban areas to solve spectrum and bandwidth challenges.”
Jake MacLeod, Gray Beards Consulting, was initially surprised at Xu’s remarks, but upon reflection, he said reducing expectations of 5G is a responsible thing to do considering the standard is not even completed.
“What he is also doing, subliminally, is identifying that 5G has been hijacked into a hyped-up marketing term,” MacLeod said. “5G will not be fully defined by 3GPP until 2020 and then you have 18 months after that to implement the specs into the product. I spoke with some of the developers in Munich and they feel the hype surrounding 5G has gotten out of hand. People are taking this information and blowing it out of proportion.”
With that said, MacLeod anticipates that 5G, when it is deployed, will be more than just another product but a step-function change or paradigm shift with a foundation of software defined networks, self-optimizing networks and network functions virtualization, in addition to 5G NR radio technology.
Xu acknowledged the inevitability of moving forward in the manufacture of 5G and the momentum of the operators building out 5G, whether use cases have been established or not.
“If one operator provides 5G service, other operators have to invest, even for branding or marketing purposes,” Xu said. “For consumers, some tend to chase the new stuff. 4G has been there for 10 years. If 5G is available, they are certainly interested. Why not buy 5G over 4G? But those early adopters may not know what to do with 5G. Just as 50 percent of Chinese users buy 4K TVs, but even today there is no 4K TV channel.”
In the second half of 2018, Huawei will introduce fixed wireless end-to-end 5G solution, and it in Q3 of next year, it will launch a 5G mobile phone.
“For me, for Huawei, 5G has been part of the plan, it has been advancing, and the progress is pretty good, so there is no special attention that we put on 5G,” Xu said.