Huawei has called for more industry-wide collaboration and a more liberal view on spectrum resource policy in order to ramp up the 5G market.
Speaking at the company’s 10th annual Mobile Broadband Forum in Zurich, Switzerland, Huawei deputy chairman Ken Hu (picture above) outlined the current status of global 5G development, highlighting the value that 5G has already brought to consumers and industries in early-adopter countries.
Hu noted that in less than a year after standards were frozen, 5G networks have already seen much faster large-scale commercial deployment than with 4G, and that currently there were carriers in more than 20 markets that had introduced 40 commercial 5G networks.
Huawei expects more than 60 networks by the end of 2019. In South Korea, the first market to launch a commercial 5G network, local carriers have signed up more than 3.5 million 5G subscribers in less than six months.
“We have made great progress,” said Hu. “5G applications for enhanced mobile broadband, entertainment and manufacturing are already here. We can’t say for sure what type of applications we will see in the future, but right now it’s clear that every single industry will benefit from 5G technology.”
Yet Hu argued that this was no reason for complacency and cautioned that to make the most of 5G, the industry had to work together to get to grips with the real challenges that lie ahead. These centred on spectrum, site resources and cross-sector collaboration, he said.
“5G is not just faster 4G,” said Hu. “It will play a completely different role in our lives, so, as an industry, we all need to have a fresh mindset to drive its future development.”
Hu said spectrum resource, specifically its cost and availability, is likely to be one of the most significant gating factors to 5G development that carriers face moving forward. “We hope governments can provide more spectrum resources to carriers, and consider more flexible pricing models,” he added. “This will reduce the initial capex [capital expenditure] burden on carriers as they roll out their 5G networks.”
Hu also recommended that governments start actively planning to meet new spectrum demand over the next five to 10 years, noting that 6GHz spectrum bands are a good starting point. “Our industry also needs more support for site resources,” he said. “Costs are still too high, and site availability always falls short of demand. Regulators should step up and improve the situation by opening up more public infrastructure for sharing, and providing guidance on site construction.”
Hu emphasised the importance of cross-sector collaboration, particularly in the face of persistent challenges over vertical industry knowledge, use cases and business case development. “We need to innovate together,” he said. “If we can have an open mind, work together with industry partners to identify real problems, and explore what works and what doesn’t, that will make it easier for us to unleash the power of 5G.”