China not giv­ing up on race to lead 5G

Banned tech firms leave tele­com sec­tor shaken, not wor­ried

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Chen Qingqing

The ar­rest of Huawei’s CFO and ban­ning the com­pany from some mar­kets will not hin­der China’s am­bi­tions to de­velop and pro­mote the world­wide im­ple­men­ta­tion of 5G which is be­ing driven by gov­ern­ment sup­port­ing poli­cies and a strong ecosys­tem, in­dus­try representatives said.

Still, un­cer­tain­ties re­main for the in­dus­try as the US and its al­lies con­tinue to block Chi­nese com­pa­nies from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­struc­tion of 5G net­works in lo­cal mar­kets.

Huawei, a ma­jor provider of 5G equip­ment around the world, has been en­tan­gled in problems, spark­ing con­cerns over whether China can still lead the global 5G mar­ket, the next gen­er­a­tion of wire­less net­work tech­nolo­gies.

Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was de­tained by Cana­dian au­thor­i­ties on De­cem­ber 1, at the re­quest of the US, which is seek­ing her ex­tra­di­tion on as yet un­spec­i­fied charges made by pros­e­cu­tors in the East­ern Dis­trict of New York.

Ja­pan also an­nounced plans to ban gov­ern­ment pur­chases of equip­ment from Huawei and ZTE, be­com­ing the lat­est coun­try to fol­low the US, which con­tin­ues to pres­sure its ma­jor al­lies to say no to Huawei equip­ment for na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons.

Huawei said in a let­ter to global sup­pli­ers that it is un­rea­son­able for the US gov­ern­ment to use this ap­proach to ex­ert pres­sure on a busi­ness en­tity, ac­cord­ing to an e-mail the com­pany sent to the Global Times on Fri­day. “Re­gard­less of how un­rea­son­able their ap­proach be­comes, the partner-

ships we have with our global sup­pli­ers will stay un­changed,” it said.

The com­pany has pur­chased a large vol­ume of com­po­nents rang­ing from com­puter pro­ces­sors to wire­less con­nec­tion chips from US sup­pli­ers in­clud­ing Qual­comm and In­tel, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by Gu­osen Se­cu­ri­ties. It also buys ra­dio fre­quency con­nec­tors and mem­ory chips from Amer­i­can chip­mak­ers in­clud­ing Qorvo and Mi­cron, the re­port showed.

“There is no doubt that coun­tries block­ing Huawei pose a con­sid­er­able ob­sta­cle to its re­search and de­vel­op­ment in 5G tech­nol­ogy,” Li Zhen, an in­dus­try ex­pert at Bei­jing-based CCID Con­sult­ing, told the Global Times on Fri­day. How­ever, these dif­fi­cul­ties will have lim­ited im­pact on China’s 5G de­vel­op­ment over­all as the coun­try has al­ready moved ahead of the US and Europe in com­mer­cial­iz­ing the new tech­nol­ogy, he noted.

While some coun­tries re­jected Huawei in 5G deals, oth­ers have em­braced the Chi­nese firm’s sup­port of lo­cal 5G de­vel­op­ment. Huawei has part­nered with lo­cal car­rier Altice Por­tu­gal to im­ple­ment 5G ser­vices in Por­tu­gal, the com­pany said on Wed­nes­day.

So far, the com­pany has signed deals with about 50 car­ri­ers glob­ally, and de­liv­ered 10,000 5G base sta­tions to the world, Huawei told the Global Times in an ear­lier in­ter­view.

Mov­ing for­ward

The Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (MIIT) of China con­firmed on Fri­day that it has ap­proved 5G trial fre­quency bands, which will usher in large-scale 5G test­ing na­tion­wide.

Mean­while, China Mo­bile, the largest Chi­nese car­rier, will soon kick off con­struc­tion of its 5G trial net­work, Shang Bing, the com­pany’s chair­man, said in a doc­u­ment sent to the Global Times on Fri­day.

“With this ap­proval, Chi­nese com­pa­nies will con­duct pre-com­mer­cial­iza­tion tri­als. To some ex­tent, West­ern coun­tries’ lim­ited ac­cess to Chi­nese firms will make us do even bet­ter,” said Xiang Li­gang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of tele­com in­dus­try news site cc­time.com.

China be­gan to make ad­vances in the tele­com in­dus­try dur­ing the 3G era with its home-grown 3G stan­dard and has grown much stronger dur­ing the 4G stan­dard de­spite pres­sure from the US, and “these past ex­pe­ri­ences show we’re ca­pa­ble of over­com­ing this pres­sure,” he said.

In­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, thor­ough test­ing and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies will make 5G de­ploy­ment a suc­cess, ex­perts said. Proac­tive poli­cies of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment in sup­port­ing 5G net­works by al­lo­cat­ing fre­quency bands have also saved costs for Chi­nese car­ri­ers com­pared to their for­eign coun­ter­parts, they said.

“Wel­come 2019, to em­brace 5G,” has al­ready be­come a global con­sen­sus. The co­op­er­a­tion through­out the global in­dus­try and sup­ply chain is a must for 5G’s de­vel­op­ment, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try representatives.

China is plan­ning to be­gin pre-com­mer­cial­iz­ing 5G use next year, and ini­ti­ate large scale use in 2020, which will un­lock busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties for a wide range of sce­nar­ios such as vir­tual re­al­ity, con­nected ve­hi­cles and ad­vances in ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence.

Along with po­lit­i­cal pres­sures from other coun­tries, the car­ri­ers still have to fig­ure out how to max­i­mize value and re­turn in mass com­mer­cial­iza­tion, noted Cui Kai, re­search man­ager for IDC.

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