Huawei boss warns the potential of 5G is becoming overblown

18 Apr 20181.32k Views

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Huawei skyscraper in Vilnius. Image: J Lekavicius/Shutterstock

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Is 5G all it’s cracked up to be? Eric Xu doesn’t think so.

China’s Huawei has long been vocal about the future of wireless technology and the potential consumer benefits 5G would bring, but it seems that it has cooled off somewhat in terms of the next generation of wireless connectivity.

At the company’s global analyst summit in Shenzhen, China, Huawei rotating chairperson Eric Xu said that while the next generation was indeed more reliable and speedier, the average consumer would find “no material difference between the two technologies”.

Is it overhyped?

5G has been heralded as a vital element of the next generation of technologies, from autonomous driving to the billions of connected internet of things (IoT) devices, but Xu downplayed just how transformative it would turn out to be. He noted that today, the technology to support autonomous driving already exists.

The current 4G infrastructure is robust, according to Xu, who said: “Maybe expectations on 5G are not as big as some people might think. Across Huawei’s portfolio, 5G is just one product, a natural evolution of 2G, 3G and 4G technology.”

Xu did say that Huawei would continue to invest in the technology, as neglecting to do so would cost the company customers. “If you are not good at 5G, customers won’t buy from you, even for 4G.”

Striking a pragmatic tone at the conference on 17 April, Xu noted that there was a lot of “follow the leader” behaviour from telecom players and consumers in terms of development and hype.

“Over the last couple of years, the entire industry, and also governments around the world, have regarded 5G too highly, as if it is going to be the digital infrastructure for everything.”

He added that a special use case for the technology had not emerged yet, which means that its core network will be selectively deployed for Huawei in China. “We don’t see many clear use cases for apps that we can support only with 5G. Therefore it won’t be a national coverage network – it will start in urban dense areas.”

Diego Anesini, research director at IDC Latin America, told BNamericas: “Vendors are expecting too much from 5G, and providers in many places have yet to recover their investment in 4G or even 3G.”

Huawei also announced that its first 5G-enabled phone, complete with its own 5G modem, would be appearing in the second half of 2019, according to The Register.

Huawei skyscraper in Vilnius. Image: J Lekavicius/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com