Huawei to invest $800m in 5G research and development

9 Feb 2018

Huawei office in Dongguan, China. Image: Peter Stein/Shutterstock

Huawei lays out its 5G vision ahead of Mobile World Congress 2018.

Chinese giant Huawei is to spend big on 5G R&D in 2018 alone as it endeavours to become an industry leader in cutting-edge mobile network technology.

The company is one of the biggest spenders in research and development and executive director of the board and president of Huawei carrier BG, Ryan Ding, said Huawei would commit to annual R&D investments of between $10bn and $20bn annually in future.

Massive research budget

Huawei spent around $12bn on R&D in 2017, leaving competitors like Ericsson in the dust. The Swedish firm reported an approximate total R&D spend of $4.1bn in 2017.

Huawei unveiled its plans at a London event on 8 February, with the chief marketing officer of its wireless product line, Peter Zhou, saying the team had been working on 5G technology for more than 10 years.

He continued: “Today, we have started to build 5G networks in 10 cities, so this year you will see a lot of commercial 5G news from those cities and even more. 5G is now: we just opened a door from enhanced mobile broadband, to a fully digitally connected society.”

AI is also to become a much more integral element of Huawei’s 5G strategy, according to Ding. He described it as a “general purpose technology”, which was integrated into the company’s products and networks with efficiency-boosting results.

Huawei has ambitious plans

Huawei plans to launch a full range of Huawei commercial equipment including wireless access networks, core networks and devices among other offerings. It also plans to increase the number of NB-IoT connections in the world to more than 100bn by 2025.

Ding said: “Huawei focuses on ICT infrastructure and smart devices to provide a plot of ‘rich soil’ for the development of information, automation, and intelligence technologies.

“In this soil, partners can grow their content, applications, and cloud.”

Breaking boundaries

“To achieve sustainable business growth, we need to keep moving beyond existing constraints and boundaries, first internally and then externally,” added Ding. He called on all industries to go beyond the boundaries in their respective areas to shape a more connected future.

Ding also called for increased governmental support for network operators. Huawei expects operators will need increased access to passive network facilities as the 5G networks begin to roll out.

He continued: “The Irish government is encouraging carriers to work with electricity companies, for example, and Spain is encouraging public-private partnerships to reduce investments in facilities.”

Ding concluded by warning that Europe’s significant backhaul issue would remain a challenge in that market.

Huawei office in Dongguan, China. Image: Peter Stein/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects