Huawei remains the largest vendor in the world of radio access network equipment based on annual revenues. The company also plays a leading role in the development of new mobile technologies. The magnitude of Huawei’s influence on mobile networks means when the company shares its views on the industry both mobile operators and equipment rivals need to pay attention. The annual analyst HAS conference is one of the events where Huawei is most forthcoming on how it sees the market. The following are some of the company’s view it shared at the recent HAS 2019 conference about on the future of mobile networks.
5G is coming quicker than any other mobile generation, but LTE remains the backbone of mobile networks
Ken Hu, deputy chairman at Huawei, used his keynote presentation to highlight the fast adoption of 5G versus previous generations. Metrics used to support this were the number of 5G versus 4G chipsets, deployed base stations, and handsets within a similar timeframe. He also showed Huawei’s forecast of 500 million 5G subscribers within three years versus the five it took for 4G and 10 years it took for 3G.
Of course, that last metric is based on several assumptions, including rate of 5G smartphone adoption, which hinges on such things as price points, consumers seeing enough value in 5G-enhanced mobile broadband to purchase a 5G device, and network coverage. Small-scale rollouts just for an operator to say it has a commercial 5G network won’t attract subscribers.
Huawei, while positive on 5G’s future success, continues to rely on LTE for the bulk of its RAN revenues. The need for better coverage and capacity drive LTE investments. The vendor believes LTE traffic will increase 10-fold by 2025.
Other highlights from the event include:
Huawei does not support the open RAN initiative, because it believes it increases total cost of network ownership and reduces network efficiencies. Huawei gave power consumption as an example of where ORAN hurts network efficiency.
The vendor is focused on total cost of ownership of the network and is working to improve that through smaller more efficient network gear along with pushing for better standards and practices when it comes to deploying new sites. Huawei advocates the latter through its Open Site initiative.
Huawei continues to work on increasing global internet connectivity through its WTTx (fixed wireless access) solutions. Huawei also believes it could be a solution in already-connected markets where the existing fixed infrastructure needs to be upgraded. Furthermore, thanks to use of the TDD band and newer antenna technologies, WTTx can compete directly with fiber. As part of its initiative to get operators to give more consideration to fixed wireless access, Huawei has started to use the term Wireless Fiber alongside WTTx. Ovum believes Huawei needs to be careful not to confuse operators with this additional branding because operators might believe there is a difference between WTTx and Wireless Fiber.
5G Service Provider Tracker: 1Q19, GLB007-000226 (April 2019)
"Huawei held the top spot again for RAN revenue in 2018," SPT002-000205 (April 2019)
Daryl Schoolar, Practice Leader, Service Provider Technology