[Video] Asian telecom giants eye Shanghai as 5G race unfolds

By Song Su-hyun

Huawei announces launch of commercial 5G systems in September, KT chairman praises speed of Chinese competitors

  • Published : Jun 27, 2018 - 17:16
  • Updated : Jun 29, 2018 - 11:35

SHANGHAI -- Some 60,000 officials from the telecommunications industry across the globe flocked to Shanghai on Wednesday as the largest mobile conference in the region kicked off, playing a pivotal role in the industry’s advances into the fifth-generation network.

At the seventh edition of the Mobile World Congress Shanghai, global telecom industry officials, analysts and media paid attention to how rapidly China is moving toward the new 5G network era, expressing awe at the increased number of use cases showcased by Chinese mobile leaders, such as Huawei Technologies, ZTE, China Mobile and China Telecom.

It is a follow-up event to the Barcelona MWC in February with no launch of the newest technologies or products, but the main N3 hall of the Shanghai New International Expo Center, where the four Chinese companies have installed exhibition booths, was fully packed with potential customers of made-in-China mobile products and services. 

Visitors at Huawei's booth at the MWC in Shanghai on Wednesday. (By Song Su-hyun /The Korea Herald)

Huawei, the main sponsor of the Shanghai conference, was the center of attention, occupying the most spacious area of the venue.

At its booth, Huawei exhibited a lineup of 5G commercial systems that are preparing for an official launch, and showcased major 5G applications including driverless cars, wireless medical robots, Cloud AR, Cloud VR, and Cloud PC.

“Ultra-low latency of 5G is the most essential element in telemedicine, especially when remotely operating on a human body,” said a Huawei official at the booth, touting the wireless medical service as one of promising 5G use cases.

It also introduced 5G use cases for energy management solutions, including electricity use monitoring, emergency fire control and heating systems for households. 

Eric Xu, rotating chairman of Huawei, announced the company’s plan to commercialize the end-to-end 5G solutions based on non-standalone standards by September, and standalone systems by March 30 next year, in his keynote speech at the event.

“In order to connect more and more devices with 5G, we will keep license fees of our systems affordable, and win more cooperating partners to create a 5G ecosystem,” Xu said.

Huawei is known as the world’s first and leading provider of end-to-end 5G solutions so far. It has just launched 5G modems for households, and plans to introduce 5G-enabled mobile devices next year.

South Korean mobile operators are in the middle of examining technologies and specifications of 5G equipment and devices in the works by Huawei and other global vendors such as Nokia and Ericsson, with a schedule to announce final contractors by the third quarter of this year. 
KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu (right) listens to a presentation at the KT booth set up at Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2018 that opened Wednesday. (By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald)

To check out the latest 5G progress in China, the chiefs of two Korean telcos -- KT and LG Uplus -- also joined the conference.

KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu praised the rapid development of 5G technologies by Chinese players as he looked around exhibition booths.

“Chinese techs always progress at a great speed that surpasses anyone’s expectations. But we were the first to start on 5G and the first to announce its commercialization,” Hwang said. “5G is not just a task of KT but of South Korea, in terms of the ‘fourth industrial revolution.’” 

The KT chief expressed strong confidence in Korea’s 5G technologies, and remained silent over its position on cooperation with Huawei, regarding ongoing bidding for 5G equipment.

LG Uplus is the only Korean mobile carrier partnering closely with Huawei since the commercialization of the 4G LTE network. The company is highly likely to let in Huawei for deployment of 5G core equipment.

According to a report by GSMA, the Asia-Pacific region including China, Korea, Japan and Australia is on the path to become the world’s largest 5G region by 2025, with an estimated 675 million 5G connections in the next seven years.

Markets like Korea and China will pioneer the technology to lead uptake with launches of commercial 5G networks expected to begin next year, it said.

The Asian mobile industry added $1.5 trillion in economic value last year, equivalent to 5.4 percent of regional gross domestic product, reflecting the mobile ecosystem’s growing value to the region’s economy.

By Song Su-hyun (
Korea Herald correspondent