Is 5G the fourth industrial revolution?
2025, 1.2 billion people worldwide are set to have access to 5G networks – a third of them in China, according to the GSMA, a global trade group of nearly 800 mobile network operators.
5G networks, now in the testing stage, will rely on denser arrays of small antennas and the cloud to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks, and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of indusry
Deals to start building 5G networks are still largely 2 year away, but Huawei has signed 25 Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with telecoms network operators to trial its 5G-ready equipment, a Reuters review of company reports and announcements found.
These MoUs – pre-cursors to potential commercial contracts – include agreements with Britain’s BT, Bell Canada (BCE), France’s Orange, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and global player Vodafone.
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“Existing network footprint is important because operators still need to maintain their legacy … networks and could save money by using the same vendors,” said Stefan Pongratz, an industry analyst with research firm Dell‘Oro.
These MoUs – pre-cursors to potential commercial contracts – include agreements with Britain’s BT, Bell Canada (BCE), France’s Orange, Germany’s Deutsche
Telekom and global player Vodafone.
Huawei lags behind Sweden’s Ericsson, with 38 MoUs, and Finland’s Nokia, with 31, according to the data, which does not include deals that have not been made public.
Still, Huawei’s existing partnerships with telecoms network operators could give it an extra edge; as of 2016, Huawei said it had supplied more than half of the 537 4G networks globally and 59 of the 90 4.5G networks – an intermediate step before 5G
Huawei also has the home advantage: the firm and smaller, domestic-focused peer ZTE Corp are each guaranteed about a third of China’s 5G network contracts, under Beijing’s policy, while foreign players have to compete for slivers of the market
While projects to start building the next-generation mobile networks are a year away, Huawei has signed at least 15 agreements with telecommunications operators in Malaysia and Asia to trial its 5G-ready equipment.