Huawei and Three UK trial 5G home broadband

Huawei is still actively playing in the UK's 5G market, this week announcing trials of home broadband services with Three UK using commercial 5G routers that attained download speeds of up to 2Gbps.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Three UK has announced it is working with Chinese networking giant Huawei on a 5G home broadband demo in London, with the service attaining download speeds of up to 2Gbps.

The demonstration utilised its 100MHz C-Band spectrum and Huawei's commercial 5G home broadband routers, with the companies stating speeds will average around 1Gbps for each user.

Three and Huawei have been working on pre-commercial tests this year, and said they will continue testing the service ahead of the public launch in dense urban areas and train stations in 2019.

"Huawei will continue to work with Three UK to bring customers more market-leading commercial applications of 5G," Huawei 5G Product Line president Yang Chaobin said.

The trial with Huawei follows Three earlier this month announcing that it will invest more than £2 billion into upgrading its infrastructure to enable it to deliver "market-leading" 5G services as of 2019, including wireless home broadband via its subsidiary Relish.

Three said it has so far focused its spending on:

  • acquiring 5G spectrum;
  • signing an agreement for cell site technology rollouts across major urban areas to deploy 5G and enhance 4G;
  • building a high-capacity dark fibre network connecting 20 new datacentres;
  • deploying a 5G-ready cloud core network with an initial capacity of 1.2TBps; and
  • rolling out carrier aggregation technology on 2,500 mobile sites.

Its site upgrades to prepare for 5G will be completed by Huawei.

"Described as wireless fibre, 5G delivers a huge increase in capacity together with ultra-low latency. It opens up new possibilities in home broadband and industrial applications, as well as being able to support the rapid growth in mobile data usage," Three UK CEO Dave Dyson said earlier this month.

"This is a major investment into the UK's digital infrastructure. UK consumers have an insatiable appetite for data, and 5G unlocks significant capability to meet that demand."

Read also: On a roof, inside London's 5G mobile trial

Rival UK carrier EE earlier this week similarly announced a 5G mobile trial in London, after last week announcing that it will switch on 5G services in 16 cities across the UK in 2019, starting with London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham, and Cardiff.

Back in February, EE had announced extending its 5G partnership with Huawei to cover live trials of 5G New Radio (NR) and customer premises equipment (CPE).

"The aim is to test real-life 5G performance in a range of environments in preparation for commercial launch," Huawei said at the time.

"Our 5G research has been hugely promising, and this partnership with Huawei will turn that research into reality," BT CTIO Howard Watson added.

"The EE network is already the UK leader for speed and coverage, and with the weight of BT's R&D and partnerships we can ensure that leadership continues with the introduction a world-class 5G experience."

Huawei and EE have also been upgrading the latter's LTE network, with a test at the beginning of the year attaining speeds of 970Mbps across 4G in Wembley Stadium using a Huawei Mate 10 Pro device.

Huawei and EE had in November 2017 also demonstrated separate uplink-downlink (UL/DL) decoupling technology across a 5G-LTE network deployment in London.

Despite its involvement in the UK's 5G networks, Huawei along with ZTE were banned by the Australian government from playing a role in any 5G rollouts in August due to supposed national security issues stemming from concerns of foreign government interference in critical communications infrastructure.

Huawei at the time slammed the Australian government's decision, saying it was not based in fact or a result of a transparent process, but rather motivated by political instability thanks to infighting in the Liberal party.

United States President Donald Trump's administration has also been cracking down on Chinese involvement in the American tech sphere, including through draft legislation barring the sale of national security-sensitive technology to China, and blocking government or contractors from buying telecommunications equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE.

Huawei in July told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that the US should not miss out on its market-leading technology, pointing out that its exclusion would drive up consumer costs for mobile services.

United States Senators Marco Rubio and Mark Warner then reportedly told Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to ban Huawei from taking part in deploying the nation's 5G mobile networks.

Huawei declined to comment, but in September denied similar reports that the Indian government had excluded it from taking part in joint 5G trials, saying it is currently proposing a set of solutions to support the government's requirements for a nationwide 5G rollout.

"Huawei is an active participant in India's growing 5G ecosystem," Huawei told ZDNet.

"Our collaboration with relevant departments and operators continues to proceed as normal. The government of India remains open and welcoming towards Huawei, and has been a fantastic source of support."

South Korea's largest carrier left Huawei off its list of 5G vendors, with SK Telecom announcing in September that it would be going with Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung.

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