HTC and China Mobile have announced signing a 5G Devices Forerunner Initiative, with the companies to work together on accelerating the production and deployment of 5G devices and infrastructure in China.
The announcement, made during Mobile World Congress Shanghai (MWCS) 2018 this week, will see the two companies aiming to push "mass VR adoption" and sales for the Vive virtual reality (VR) headset maker.
"The program aims to launch the first batch of pre-commercial 5G devices for a large-scale trial application showcase, encompassing applicable scenarios for 5G devices, product configuration, technical solutions, testing and verification, and product research and development," HTC said.
"By collaborating with the major telecommunication carrier in China, HTC aims to both advance the development of 5G technologies into our daily lives, and also to accelerate mass adoption of VR/AR."
HTC chair Cher Wang said the tech company had similarly played a role in the 3G and 4G eras with product development, and will continue to do so in 5G.
"With the coming advancements in next-generation mobile technologies, the proliferation of 5G networks will facilitate new classes of use cases for VR/AR not possible in the past, leading to more rapid mass adoption and more natural interaction models for immersive technologies, thereby realising the promise of Vive Reality," Wang said.
Following the approval of 5G standards in December, China Mobile had announced -- alongside Huawei, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, AT&T, BT, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, KT Corporation, LG Electronics, LG Uplus, MediaTek, NEC Corporation, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Qualcomm, SK Telecom, Sony Mobile Communications, Sprint, TIM, Telefonica, Telia Company, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Vodafone, and ZTE -- that the global mobile industry can begin the full-scale development of 5G New Radio including large-scale trials and commercial deployment.
China Mobile has been working to upgrade its mobile network for years, including working with Nokia on a software-defined networking (SDN) platform for its public and private enterprise cloud solutions; with Nokia on 5G field trials and 4G LTE upgrades; with ARM on virtualising its network; and with Singaporean telco StarHub to collaborate across IoT, mobile roaming, network resources, and devices.
HTC also used MWCS 2018 to demonstrate "even tighter integration of smartphones with VR devices", including the Vive Focus System Update 2.0 allowing for the Vive Focus VR headset to integrate with its new HTC U12 Plus smartphone, including to take calls and receive messages.
According to HTC, the integration is part of its "efforts in leading the convergence of the telecom and immersive media industries".
In May, HTC had announced that Vive Focus users will be able to access PC VR content from Viveport or Steam via a 5GHz Wi-Fi network; and it revealed that it would be partnering on VR content with Major League Baseball, Formula One, and Seagate to help drive mass VR adoption.
In an update this week on its F1 partnership with McLaren, HTC said it has already produced augmented reality (AR) and VR content for Vive Focus and U12 Plus users to "feel what it is like to become a McLaren F1 driver".
"The VR content will soon be available for download on Viveport, with the AR content available on phone app stores," HTC added.
Back in January, HTC had also announced at CES 2018 an enterprise version of the VR headset, named the Vive Pro, aimed at business customers.
"There's a clear need in the VR market for a premium VR experience with high-resolution display, integrated audio, and the best components available today in a headset," GM of HTC Vive Daniel O'Brien said at the time.
"Vive Pro offers an immediate upgrade for both VR enthusiasts and enterprises that want to utilize the best VR experience."
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