News

BT, Three and Vodafone show 5G video call with Huawei

Ryan Ding 2019.jpg

Three of the UK’s four mobile operators showed their disdain for efforts to ban Huawei today by conducting the first video call across 5G radio networks.

Representatives of BT’s EE, CK Hutchison’s Three UK and Vodafone carried on a brief, though distorted, video conversation with Ryan Ding, president of the Chinese vendor’s carrier business group.

Ding and colleagues from Huawei were previewing some of the announcements the company expects to make in Barcelona next week at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Huawei has commercial contracts for 5G network equipment with 18 European operators, nine in the Middle East and three in Asia-Pacific, said Ding, who is also executive director of Huawei’s board.

His list did not include anywhere in the Americas, north, central or south. Canada will not have 5G spectrum until the first quarter of 2020, he said after his main presentation. “We have a number of partnerships with major operators in Canada regarding 5G. We are busy preparing for 5G delivery once 5G licences are released.”

But, he warned: “The world is a dynamic world and I cannot predict.”

That might be wise. The government of Canada has expressed security worries about using Chinese equipment in the country’s telecoms networks – though executives from at least two of them, Bell Canada and Telus, have voiced their support of Huawei.

Capacity asked why Telefónica’s O2 UK network was not included in the 5G video call along with EE, Three UK and Vodafone? “The demonstration was based on the live networks we have deployed in the UK and these are the three live networks,” said Ding.  

Meanwhile Ding suggested that adverse publicity about Huawei over the past few months might be working to its advantage. He accepted that “there is some impact in some countries, but not in 95% of markets. On the contrary in other markets Huawei is known by more companies and more customers.”

In other words, there is no such thing as bad publicity.

“Because of the security pressure, Huawei is ever more motivated to make improvements in its products,” he said. This year we will make even bigger R&D investments to make our products better.”

Ding used to be head of R&D in the company, taking spending from 11-12% of revenue to 15%. “I believe the R&D investment rate will continue to increase.

Peng Song, who works in marketing for the same group in Huawei, said the company spent €11.3 billion in R&D in 2018. “This ranks us number five in the world [across all sectors] and we spend more than all the other telecoms providers combined.”

Ding said that the technology used for 5G will reduce the cost per bit “by 80-90%” compared with 4G.