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Huawei retains 5G RAN leadership

As 5G flourishes across Asia-Pacific, analyst finds Chinese telecoms equipment and services giant is defying bans on its technology to claim leadership in 5G radio access networks

The first month of 2022 has seen huge activity in radio access networks (RANs), with particular emphasis on the development of Open RAN technology, which could go some way towards replacing essential equipment in comms infrastructures from suppliers such as Huawei after its products were banned by several governments. But according to research from GlobalData, the Chinese tech giant’s 5G RAN portfolio has been ranked a leader for the third year in a row.

In the latest of GlobalData’s six-monthly evaluations of the competitive advantages of 5G RAN products from major RAN suppliers, covering the second half of 2021, 5G RAN: competitive landscape assessment, Huawei’s product portfolio was found to have “outclassed” its competitors in all four criteria – radio unit portfolio breadth, baseband unit (BBU) capacity, ease of installation and technological evolution.

According to the report, Huawei offers the largest variety of 5G radio products for deployment in different scenarios. Huawei believes that its radio product range greatly facilitates ubiquitous 5G gigabit experiences and that, through continuous innovation, it has amassed a number of advantages that allow it to deploy across different scenarios and spur the industry forward.

These advantages are said to encompass improvements in both coverage and energy efficiency, and 5G deployment simplification at sites with limited antenna space. Also, operators are said to be able to use fragmented spectrum and construct shared multi-operator networks, and sub-3GHz 4T-8T-Massive MIMO multi-antenna ultra-wideband products improve spectral and energy efficiency while reducing costs. These offerings can help operators to upgrade their networks, it said.

Huawei said that going forward, it will continue to place its utmost focus on user experience and industry demand. Through innovation, and in conjunction with partners around the world, it hopes to take consumer experience to new heights and bring digital to all industries. Software innovation is also an important area of interest for Huawei. In November 2020, the company proposed new directions for 5.5G with the aim of promoting sustainable development for 5G into the future.

In further research of the 5G arena, GlobalData found that 5G services have been gaining strong ground in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with its subscriptions expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.5% over the forecast period of 2021-2026. Growth was said to be driven primarily by national 5G strategies/policies and action plans adopted by several countries, outlining their vision and guidelines to establish 5G ecosystems.

Even though 4G/LTE is set to remain the leading mobile technology in the region by subscriber volume through to 2026, rapid adoption of 5G services will reduce 4G/LTE’s share of total mobile subscriptions from 59.8% in 2021 to 47.4% by 2026. By contrast, 5G’s share of the total mobile subscriptions in the region will grow from 17.6% in 2021 to 45.8% by 2026, with all the developed APAC countries boasting commercial 5G services and 5G network expansions.

Most of the emerging APAC countries that have not yet launched 5G services have plans to launch soon.

“While the pandemic had initially impeded the roll-out of 5G networks, the need for high-speed reliable networks to sustain the backbone of the digital economy, and drive innovation across industries through use of new digital tools such as IoT [internet of things], automation and data analytics has provided the motivation and incentive for 5G investments,” said Deepa Dhingra, senior telecom analyst at GlobalData.

Smart city initiatives across several countries in APAC, particularly China with IoT applications in areas such as e-government, e-healthcare, smart traffic management and smart power grids, will drive a strong case for 5G in the region.”

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