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Huawei does not expect the world to have two different 5G standards despite US ban

Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East
(Image credit: Future)

Huawei does not see two different 5G technology and standards due to the UK and the US pursuing the idea of a club of 10 democratic nations to avoid reliance on the Chinese firm’s 5G technologies.

“I don’t believe the world will be split into two systems because it will be a big loss to the global economy, in terms of efficiency and cost. Some smartphones will not work in some countries if there are two standards. This is not feasible or realistic,” Charles Yang, President of Huawei Middle East, said.

Moreover, he said that Huawei has been a strong advocate for one unified 5G standard across the world so that all countries, organisations and individuals can enjoy the values and benefits that 5G can bring.

The US has permitted American companies to take part in 5G standard bodies and Yang welcomes the move as standards should be set in open, fair and non-discriminatory ways to allow the participation of research institutes and industry partners.  

Huawei said that it is merely caught in the middle of a US-China battle over trade and technology.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce plans to phase out Huawei from the UK’s 5G network later this week after giving green-light to access 35% of the network at the beginning of the year, despite the US warning of potential security risks.

Some Tory MPs have urged the UK Government to ensure that Huawei telecom network is removed before 2024 despite telecommunication firms warning against it and seeking at least five to seven years.

An industry expert said that it is difficult to ban Huawei as countries will face huge 5G deployment costs when compared to Nokia and Ericsson and it may slow the adoption of 5G in some countries.

“Huawei is one-third cheaper than the other two network providers,” he said.

Currently, Nokia and Ericsson are Europe’s only alternatives in terms of supplying 5G network equipment.

Despite the US ban, there are some countries and enterprises that still support Huawei.

5G has key role to play in ICT infrastructure 

Despite the big pressure from the US, Yang said that he is satisfied with Huawei’s performance in the 5G space as more countries are supporting the company.

So far, he said that Huawei has signed 91 commercial contracts for 5G globally and has shipped more than 600,000 base stations.

Out of the 91 commercial contracts, 12 are from the Middle East.

Yang said that Huawei has so far installed 1,500 networks in more than 170 countries globally in the last 38 years.

“Huawei has worked closely with telecom operators and partners in over 300 projects and in more than 20 industries to explore use cases and applications for 5G. We believe that the ICT infrastructure will be the foundation to the future intelligent world and 5G has a bigger role to play,” he said.

Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Research, said that 5G is an enterprise play for Huawei and some of the bigger companies are already looking at 5G to cut their cost and drive the business.

“Whoever has larger access to technology will surely be at the front position to lead for the next decade. 5G will not only impact the users and businesses but also the GDP of a country and has a direct impact on the economy. Geopolitical issues will play a role in Huawei’s 5G case. In this present era of globalisation, everyone is dependent on others,” he said.

On May 15 this year, the US has extended the ban until May 2021. Huawei was added to the Entity List in May last year.

Will Harmony OS smartphone be launched this year? 

 “In the past year, we have invested in 15,000 R&D employees and developed 60m lines of code, and all these investments show that our service, supply chain, cooperation and customer service are not interrupted without any American elements. The US can use its advantage of technology as weapons such as chipsets, OSs and cloud to attack any country in the world,” Yang said.

Moreover, he said that ICT played a critical role in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic in China and it will also play a key role in boosting the economy post-pandemic.

“In 2020, China launched a $6.8tr new infrastructure investment plan in five years and in seven fields. Out of the seven, five are in the ICT industry which includes 5G, cloud and AI. China plans to deploy 1m 5G base stations and 200m 5G users by the end of this year.

“We need to work together to ease the burdens for telecom operators and stimulate the ICT development,” he said.

For Huawei, he said the top priority is to maintain its leadership position in technology to support its customers to seize upcoming opportunities.  

“I emphasise that Huawei is the leading solution provider in the world, covering all ICT domains. We are leading the 5G race with 35.7% market share and holds 20% of 5G patents. 

We are the number two smartphone manufacturer with 17.6% market share in 2019, number two cloud player in China with 14.1% market share and number one 5G chipset manufacturer (Kirin 990),” he said.

In the Middle East, he said that Huawei has developed 70,000 ICT talents, built 100 joint innovation centres, and provided 10,000 local jobs and aims to achieve local procurements worth $4b by 2025.

“Where there is difficulty, there are more opportunities. Although there are many crises in 2020, we are making unprecedented opportunities,” he said.

When asked about smartphones running on its own Harmony OS, he said that they will launch this year and “it will surprise all” but did not give more details.

Media reports said that Huawei will release a version 2.0 of Harmony OS  at the Huawei Developer Conference to be held on September 11 this year. 

At the 2019 Huawei Developer Conference held in August 2019, Huawei officially released its own operating system Harmony OS.

The Honor and Huawei TVs have taken the lead in adopting Harmony OS system.