Chinese information and communications technology firm Huawei has announced it will invest at least $600m in research and development (R&D) for 5G technologies by 2018.
The R&D investment will cover a range of key technologies for the next generation of mobile networks, including research into air-interface technology.
Huawei predicts the first 5G networks will be ready for commercial deployment from 2020 and will deliver peak data rates of over 10Gbps, 100 times faster than today’s 4G networks.
The company expects 5G to boost mobile networks’ capacity by a factor of 1,000 and enable connections by hundreds of thousands of mobile devices.
5G is a major focus for Huawei and is one of the main projects at the company’s R&D centre in Sweden.
Huawei CEO Eric Xu said that, while the company continues to evolve its existing 4G network capabilities, it plans to invest in R&D for 5G mobile network technologies to keep up with demands for faster and better mobile connectivity.
Xu said the $600m did not include investment to develop 5G technologies into products.
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“5G mobile networks with peak data rates of over 10Gbps will allow people to download high-definition movies in one second and provide a true-to-life video communications experience,” he said.
Huawei began investing in 5G in 2009 and has participated in the EU’s 5G research projects; worked on the establishment of the 5G Innovation Center (5GIC) in the UK; and conducted joint research with over 20 universities around the world.
At the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum 2013 in London, UK communications minister Ed Vaizey said that, through the 5GIC, the UK is looking be the world’s first testbed for 5G technologies and services.
Vaizey said the government recognises the importance of the mobile sector to growth in the UK economy, and that the £35m investment in the 5GIC will help to unlock the next generation of innovation and growth.
Joachim Horn, group CTO at Tele2, told the broadband forum that 5G will be important for enabling video, Wi-Fi, cloud, machine-to-machine communication and virtualisation.
Huawei plans to be an active contributor in building 5G standards and partnerships to drive a globally consistent standard across the industry.
“There are several issues that must be resolved before 5G can become a reality,” said Xu.
“These include the availability of spectrum and technological challenges, such as how to engineer network architectures capable of handling increasingly higher data volumes and transmission speeds necessary to accommodate more users on the network.”
By 2020, it is estimated that 6.5 billion people worldwide will use mobile networks for data communications and 100 billion of additional "things" – such as vehicles, meters, medical devices and home appliances – will also be connected to the network over 5G.
“We have already achieved many technological breakthroughs in 5G research and innovation, but most of the work remains ahead of us,” said Xu.
Responding to questions about the effect on the business of increasing scrutiny from the West because it is a Chinese company, Xu said most countries and customers trust Huawei.
“We have achieved this trust through our efforts over the past 20 years,” Xu told delegates at the mobile broadband forum in London.
In a cyber security whitepaper published in October, Huawei deputy board chairman Ken Hu re-iterated denials of government influence.
“We can confirm that we have never received any instructions or requests from any government or their agencies to change our positions, policies, procedures, hardware, software or employment practices or anything else, other than suggestions to improve our end-to-end cyber security capability,” said Hu.