September 27, 2016
A conversation with Ryan Ding, President, Products & Solutions, Huawei Technologies, about the EU Commission 5G action plan launched on the 14th September 2014.
Q. The European Commission adopted a calendar for the commercial launch of 5G in 2020, with first pan-European trials by 2018. Do you think this is achievable? What are the main obstacles?
A. In June 2016, supported by the world’s major telcos and equipment suppliers, 3GPP updated the timeline for 5G standards. The new plan is that the first version of 5G protocols will be released by 3GPP at the end of 2017, so I think it is possible that some trials will be carried out during 2018. 5G will expand the scope of mobile communications from person-to-person to person-to-thing and thing-to-thing communications. 5G will provide services for many industries other than the communications industry, so we hope that all industries and all regions will come together and achieve consensus on a single global standard for 5G, and then develop the necessary regulations around it as scheduled.
Q. Asian countries are also working very hard to develop 5G. Huawei is one of the leading companies in the region. Moreover, Chinese companies have raised some concerns in the past due to copyright infringements and their close ties with their government. You are an active member in the 5G PPP in Europe. Have you felt you were treated differently for being a Chinese firm in the 5G PPP?
A. Europe is a role model in fostering open global partnerships. For example, the EU-led 5G Private-Public Partnership (5G PPP) includes members from both Europe and other parts of the world, such as Huawei, NEC, NTT DOCOMO, Samsung, and IBM. Huawei is also a board member of 5GPPP. We have been working effectively with other members to create value and bring about a global consensus on 5G.
China is also becoming more and more open. More European companies are contributing to 5G in China. In April 2016, Ericsson and Nokia officially became members of China’s IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group. In August 2016, Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia were jointly awarded the contracts for three key research projects in wireless technology funded by the Chinese government. Ericsson and Nokia are now members of seven of China’s 5G programs.
Q. Commissioner Gunter Oettinger is pushing a lot for the development of connected cars as one of the concrete applications of 5G. Do you think that public officials should influence the development of 5G or it should be based on consumer needs?
A. We very much appreciate the efforts that Commissioner Gunter Oettinger has made in pushing for 5G development, especially the 5G Action Plan that he released not long ago. We believe that it will help to advance the development of 5G and connected cars.
5G development requires active government involvement, especially when it comes to coordinating standards. A single, global 5G standard is vital to reducing the cost of connectivity and bringing forward 5G deployment. There were three standards for 3G, and it took ten years for 3G technology to finally enter widespread use. There were two competing standards for 4G, and real deployment took just five years.
When it comes to 5G, in terms of technology, we don’t want multiple standards, and we don’t want to see standards lagging behind deployment. In terms of spectrum, we need global agreement on which spectrum is relatively easily available, so that we can minimize costs and enable seamless interconnectivity around the world. This requires open cooperation between all regions and countries, including Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Q. Intel will be an important player for Huawei in the development of 5G. What do you expect to get from this cooperation?
A. 5G will give an enormous boost to users’ mobile broadband experience. It will also serve many different industries, and these various industries will all have different needs. Therefore, 5G will not just be the introduction of a new air interface. It will also drive changes in network architecture, operations, and service provisioning models for telcos. All industry stakeholders (telcos, equipment vendors, chip makers, device makers, and content providers) will need to work together to advance the 5G industry.
Q. This month, Huawei sent a big signal to clients and partners by announcing its ambition to become a key player in the ‘cloud’. Are you entering into this new market because your other three business lines are mature markets and the room for progress is limited?
A. Huawei’s decision to enter the cloud market is entirely consistent with ongoing growth in our three major areas of business. We believe that the entire ICT industry is moving into a cloud era. Becoming a player in cloud will be an effective support for Huawei’s existing businesses.
Huawei’s entry into the cloud market is the natural choice given the evolution of the industry. Our strategy on cloud is:
• We are focused on ICT infrastructure and being an innovative provider of cloud technology.
• We are the enabler and best partner for enterprises’ cloudification and digitization strategies.
• We are an active contributor to an open, collaborative cloud ecosystem for shared success.
Q. Apple and Amazon are already big names in the ‘cloud world’. Would it be hard for you to catch up?
A. The cloud market is enormous. No one or two companies will be able to satisfy the entire global market. What the cloud market needs right now is more suppliers, to keep up with exploding demand. So in many cases, cloud providers can exist entirely in harmony – we are not necessarily in direct competition all the time.
An ecosystem always has a blend of collaboration and competition. This blend is a sign of positive, healthy development. Huawei’s approach has always been a positive one. We want to benefit more people by building a healthy, vibrant cloud industry together with our customers, partners, and industry suppliers.
Q. When it comes to devices, your mobiles are number two in sales in Spain, one of the countries with the highest percentage of smartphones in the world. When do you expect to become number one in the country? What would represent that achievement for the company?
A. In our consumer business, we are primarily concerned with profitability and sustainable growth. We are not seeking market share for its own sake. We aim to be consumer-centric, to be a leading global smart device brand that consumers love and trust.
We are always increasing our investment in research and innovation for consumers, and providing a better consumer experience with our network devices and smart devices. We integrate our own hardware, software (Emotion UI), applications, and services (cloud) to deliver better software and a better user experience. That supports our mobile broadband business, and helps us build a healthy, growing mid-range and high-end smartphone business. We also maintain a tight focus on user services, to create value for users over the full lifecycle of their smartphones.