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Huawei sees 5G's emergence by 2020

On the back of LTE's growing acceptance, the trend of network technologies taking five years to gain traction means 5G likely will see mainstream adoption by 2020.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

SHENZHEN, CHINA--The next generation of mobile broadband, 5G, is expected to be rolled out in 2020, starting in Asia, but the industry should start preparing for the technologies involved, a Huawei executive predicts, adding that the Chinese telecoms equipment maker plans to be "technology-ready" to usher the arrival of 5G.

According to Zhou Yuefang, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Huawei's LTE business unit, mobile broadband technologies have traditionally taken about five years to become mainstream and be accepted by the mobile ecosystem, before replacing its predecessor. 

Since LTE, along with its next generation LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) and LTE-Beyond (LTE-B), had only just started gaining traction, and will start to be more popular in 2014, the natural progression would be for 5G to be rolled out in 2020, he explained, speaking to ZDNet Asia at an interview here on Thursday.

Mobile broadband technologies have always been introduced before widespread rollout of the network itself, and 5G will be no exception, Zhou observed. Technologies behind LTE for example, came out in 2002 but the LTE networks did not get rolled out until 2008 or 2009, Zhou pointed out.

In the near future, some technologies surrounding base stations such as cognitive radios will start to emerge in the market, he pointed out. These technologies will be focused on sensing user positions, improving signals and increasing cost efficiencies for telcos.

AtomCell, a small-cell by Huawei which enables telcos to mitigate hotspot traffic, increase coverage, and boost rapid network growth capacity. (Source: Ellyne Phneah/ZDNet)

While Zhou could not give a defined network latency for 5G, he expects it to be 50Gbps, compared to current 4G LTE speeds typically ranging between 100Mbps and 150Mbps.

Zhou also noted 5G will have features such as having the flexibility for customers to manage spectrum, and the availability of a larger amount of spectrum, the improvement of indoor coverage through the use of small cells installed within buildings.

Huawei to be "tech-ready" for 5G

In order to prepare for the arrival of 5G network, Huawei plans to be "technology-ready", since mobile broadband technology tends to go on market before the network itself, Zhou pointed out.

The firm plans to continue channeling research and development and its resources, into creating more equipments which are able to detect 5G network, he noted. Huawei hopes to further share its technology, knowledge and deep understanding on the market, Zhou noted.

This can help contribute to the acceleration of 5G network roll-out by helping 5G technology development and standardization groups, he said. 
Just last month, Huawei said in a statement it was "answering the call of 5G" by engaging in research on 5G wireless and actively participating in industry ecosystem collaborations such as the METIS (Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for Twenty-twenty Information Society) project.

Asia prime to unveil 5G

5G networks will also be unveiled first in Asia, earlier than America and Europe, Zhou observed, adding some countries pioneering this network include China, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong.

Asian governments have been placing more focus on next-generation technologies so it is likely these technologies have the opportunity to take advantage of government policies for further development, he explained.

The region also has higher buildings compared to the West, which require greater indoor coverage, and this will spurred the development of 5G networks, along with a large and growing population demanding for high capacity mobile broadband networks, he explained.

Ellyne Phneah of ZDNet Asia reported from Huawei's headquarters in Shenzhen, China, on the vendor's invitation.

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