The Asian country takes over from the new technological generation after European and North American domination in the 3G and 4G standards
The 5G is destined to be an important economic engine of digital societies, but its guts are still to be defined. At the end of 2018 the first phase of standardization is scheduled to be closed and in December 2019 the definition will be completed. From that moment all companies will play with the same currency. Until then, each one tries to influence in its own way the creation of technology.
At the Computex 2018 technology fair , held in Taipei, representatives of different companies and international organizations exhibited their work during a day dedicated entirely to discuss the 5G. David Randolph Hoelscher, director of the Huawei network unit, spoke mainly about the technology and product applications that his firm already has ready or in development.
Hoelscher cited the facial recognition system that already works in 16 Chinese provinces and allows making 3,000 million face searches per second. Feeding a system with this amount of data without saturating it can only be done with 5G. The capacity of the technology is also already used to inspect industrial infrastructures using drones, which send video in real time for analysis. Another of the field tests of the Chinese company takes place in factories, where robots and sensors send a torrent of information that helps their maintenance. In this industrial field, there is also room for augmented reality, which will allow technicians to equip smart glasses to facilitate their access to information during operations.
The representatives of the Scandinavian Ericsson and Nokia, second and third telecommunications equipment manufacturer after Huawei was promoted to the first place, gave talks more academic. Ericsson’s, led by Marie Hogan, head of bandwidth and Internet of Things (IoT) at Ericsson, was about adapting bandwidth to the Internet of things. Rajeev Agrawal, head of innovation in algorithms at Nokia, focused on the introduction of artificial intelligence in 5G networks, the benefits this will bring and the technical challenges that lie ahead.
The theme that each company chose for its presentations can serve as a reflection of regional differences. In China it has gone to the grain, with field tests. While Europe has focused more on the technical foundations. “In 4G the European companies were the pioneers in innovation and standardization,” says Professor Rahim Tafazolli, invited to the Computex conference for his condition as director of the 5G Innovation Center of the University of Surrey. “In 5G we see a greater global mobilization. All companies in Europe, the United States and, above all, China and the Far East are very active in standardization. ”
Tafazolli believes that the technology will be deployed first in China, Japan or Korea, to later reach the United States and, later still, Europe.
The role of Chinese companies in the definition of the 5G standard is growing. Companies of this nationality have 10 of the 57 positions of presidency and vice-presidency in the 3GPP, the international group that oversees the standardization process. A few months ago, the summit held in Chennai (India), to advance this process, pointed the same trend.
The Chinese firm Huawei arrived with 40 delegates to Chennai. Only Samsung brought more representatives (41), while the American Qualcomm 30, Ericsson had 25 and Nokia, 18, according to The Wall Street Journal. Huawei expressed its willingness to move faster and add tasks, while Ericsson asked to reduce the workload and focus on certain aspects.
The rivalry between the two companies – based on the commercial aspect – is also perceived in the development of 5G. At the beginning of 2017, Huawei had sent 234 contributions to the 3GPP body for the new technology standard. Ericsson, meanwhile, sent 214, according to wireless patent specialist InterDigital. Data from the World Intellectual Property Organization also points to the rise of Chinese companies. In 2016, the most patents registered were ZTE and Huawei, first and second respectively, followed by Qualcomm.
But after doing all the R & D work you have to deploy the networks. This requires a strong investment, which in the United States will translate into 275,000 million dollars for seven years by operators, according to the consultancy Accenture. Something else is expected in China, where the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology forecasts a disbursement of 2.8 trillion yuan (about 437 billion dollars) between 2020 and 2030.
In Europe, a study by the European Commission on 5G estimates that operators will need to invest some 56,600 million euros to give full coverage to the region. Although from Deutsche Telekom said that will be necessary between 300,000 and 500,000 million euros. In any case, figures far from the will expressed by the regional operators to date.
A strategic role in the economic and social:
The efforts to position themselves in the development of the 5G go beyond the technological career. Professor Tafazolli says that the new networks will have much greater economic and social implications than 4G and 3G. “I think that now the different governments have realized how important 5G is. Not only for communications but to transform and modernize different industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare or automotive, “he says.
The study of the European Commission points out that the 5G could create 2.3 million jobs and bring a growth of 113,000 million euros in 2025, divided between the automotive sector, health, transport and energy. The Chinese government has also foreseen this value, since it has included 5G as a priority in its ‘Made in China 2025’ economic program and in the thirteenth of its five-year plans.
“The 5G is much more than the mobile bandwidth,” says Tafazolli. “That’s why there is a lot of research funded by governments, much larger than in previous generations.” All countries want to be well positioned for the implementation and China has placed itself on the front row of the grid.