While the world was busy celebrating the launch of the world’s first 4G networks in Norway and Sweden in 2009, a small team of Huawei engineers assembled to chart the company’s journey to 5G, or fifth generation mobile networks and services. In the decade since then, supported by US$4 billion of Huawei R&D investment alongside the combined efforts of the global telecoms industry, 5G – much talked about and highly anticipated – is finally arriving.
In the city of Chengdu, China’s home of the panda, 1,800 5G base stations have been installed to date. This new infrastructure is delivering mobile broadband download speeds in excess of 1 Gigabit per second to the people of Chengdu today. In part, this was why Huawei chose Chengdu as the location for its fifth annual “Asia Pacific Innovation Day 2019”, an annual celebration and discussion of technology innovation in the region.
Participants at the event – including many from India, Singapore, Australia, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and China, were able to use virtual reality headsets to enjoy 360 degree virtual views of the world-famous Panda breeding base from the back of a bus as it travelled around the city through a 5G connection powered by a Huawei Mate 20 X 5G smartphone.
By the end of 2019, there will be around 100,000 5G base stations supporting commercial 5G services across China, including in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. Outside China, commercial 5G services are currently available in 20 countries across the world. 5G-enabled smartphones and routers, powered by specially-developed 5G chipsets, are becoming widely available from a range of suppliers. This is the start of the 5G era, but there is much more to come and much more to do.
There’s “much more to come” was the unofficial theme of Huawei’s Asia- Pacific Innovation Day.
Unlike previous generations of mobile networks which were broadly built and then services sold by telecoms companies to their customers, 5G is different. 5G is an infrastructure platform across which the next generation of intelligent services will be enabled and delivered, supporting ultra-high data speeds and managing the mountains of data from all manner of connected devices that will be analysed by algorithms to create artificial intelligence. Alongside this, vertical industries are set to be revolutionized as we enter the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and a range of new services and capabilities are being developed by thousands of companies to take advantage of the much higher speeds, lower latency and IoT capabilities that 5G is bringing to the market.
Speaking at the event, William Xu, Huawei Board Director and President of the Institute of Strategic Research, said: “5G is arriving at the right time. More specifically, 5G can provide wide coverage, large bandwidth, and low latency on the basis of traditional connections. It can also provide slicing for different applications. This new feature makes it adaptable to a variety of complex industrial applications. With the advancement of 5G, there will be many 5G-enabled applications that will change the world. At the same time, 5G, AI, IoT and cloud are improving everyday life and nature, making the world a better place.
“Today, we need new inventions and breakthroughs in theory. There is still a long way to go in our journey towards an intelligent world. We will continue to explore the unknowns that the future holds for us and boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Xu also announced plans to invest more than US$300 million each year with universities across the world to help fuel future innovation and opportunities through the funding of basic academic university research, including mathematics and physics.
The world is expected to have 5 billion 5G subscribers by 2025, with 60% of the total based in the Asia Pacific. In fact, according to mobile industry association the GSMA, the 5G revolution will add US$890 billion to the Asian Pacific economy by 2035. Visitors to the Innovation Day event were able to learn about how 5G pioneers are using 5G capabilities to help protect the environment, allowing doctors to treat patients thousands of kilometers away with telemedicine, while others are using virtual and augmented reality to transform industries as diverse as education and animal husbandry. City authorities are also starting to look to 5G to create smarter, safer, more intelligent cities.
5G is ON
One of the earliest adopters of 5G is Korea, where mobile operator LGU+ launched 5G services based on Huawei networks in March 2019. Since then, the operator has observed the highest average download speeds in the country and a three-fold increase in average bandwidth consumed by subscribers to their 5G services when compared to 4G. Two million people in Korea have already upgraded their mobile connections to 5G.
Since 2013, Huawei Innovation Day has been held in different cities, including London, Milan, Munich, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Dubai, and São Paulo. Following the principles of openness, innovation, collaboration and shared success, Huawei is committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world.