Mobile players race ahead with 5G plans



TECHNOLOGY companies are losing no time after the world’s biggest smartphone trade show to ensure their plans to seize on fifth generation (5G) telecommunications opportunities are realised over the coming months.

The 2018 edition of the Mobile World Congress ended on March 1, drawing a record number of more than 107,000 visitors from 205 countries and territories. More than 2,400 firms showcased cutting-edge products and services across 120,000 net square metres of exhibition and hospitality space at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, compared with more than 2,300 last year, according to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), the global body of telecommunications groups.

John Hoffman, chief executive of GSMA Ltd, said the event had had been another big success. More than 55 per cent of the attendees held senior positions, including over 7,700 top executives, up from more than 6,100 CEOs last year, he said.

“We are not focused on necessarily having the biggest event – we continually strive to convene the right audience and deliver a high-quality experience across all aspects of programmes and events,” he said.

 “We are gratified with the number of senior-level attendees, particularly the number of CEOs, as well as the continued strong attendance of government ministers and regulators.”

Plans and prospects for 5G have been talk of the town over the past week, as the industry kept a close watch on the four-day event. There, industry leaders unveiled their ambitious plans for global leadership in 5G networks.

Huawei Technologies, a Chinese information and communications technology giant, has invested over US$600 million in its research and development activities for 5G alone. It aims for worldwide commercialisation of its 5G services and products over the next three years.

“Over the years, we have worked with many of you [firms in the mobile industry]to advance 3G, 4G – and now 5G and other ICT technologies so that more people can get connected and enjoy better services,” said Ken Hu, rotating and acting CEO at Huawei.

The firm has connected more than a third of the world’s population, he said.

“I am proud of what we have achieved, but the mobile industry is evolving. It will soon become the cornerstone of a fully connected, intelligent world, and we still have a lot of work to do,” Hu said during an awards ceremony at the event.

Huawei released a range of 5G wireless product services at the trade show. The products support all 5G frequency bands and cover different types of sites to suit deployment needs in diverse scenarios.

It also launched its 5G customer-premises equipment (CPE), the world’s first commercial terminal device.

The 5G development is seen as becoming more critical in Thailand, as it may change the way Thais communicate, how they live and the even the structure of the national economy. In this regard, Huawei has teamed up with the country’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to complete the first demonstration of 5G utility equipment in Thailand last week.

At the show, T-Mobile announced it would begin building out 5G across 30 cities this year, with Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas to have the service by 2019.

Qatar-based telecom operator Ooredoo Group says it is racing ahead on the path to 5G, as the world’s first to have 5G New Radio with commercial equipment suitable for business customers. The firm plans to roll out 5G across the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia in the near future.

Waleed Al-Sayed, deputy group chief executive at Ooredoo, said the firm would continue to expand the footprint of 5G by using its 5G spectrum at 3.5 GHz. He said its 5G commercial service experience would bring to life smart cities and smart stadiums in Qatar.

Borje Ekholm, president and chief executive at Ericsson, declared its 5G open for business during the event. The firm opened a 5G design centre in Austin, Texas, and introduced new radio products for Massive MIMO and network services that eased its journey to 5G.

“Just this year, we completed our 5G platform, which comprises the 5G core, radio and transport portfolios, together with OSS, BSS, network services and security,” he said.

“We added 5G commercial software for radio and core networks to enable operators to launch 5G from the fourth quarter of this year.”

Ekholm said 5G is moving into the commercial phase after many years of work with standards and technology. To date, the firm has signed 38 memorandums of understanding with service providers for trials.


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