News Feature | November 5, 2019

The Week in 5G: 11/5/2019 — China Switches On World's Largest 5G Network, U.S. Military Bases Roll Out 5G Test Initiatives

By Ed Biller


Continuing last week’s theme of Huawei’s bounce-back response to a U.S. ban on the company’s equipment – and active campaigning against its use in other countries – an executive for the Chinese tech giant speaking this week at the Web Summit tech conference in Portugal said rollout of its new 5G commercial networks is going “faster than expected” and that Huawei partners will be the “biggest winners.”

Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping reiterated the company’s goal of being a global 5G leader and urged companies to partner with Huawei as they develop 5G technology applications, reports CNBC

Additionally, U.S. ally Hungary has claimed to have found no evidence of Huawei being a security threat, reports Reuters, and Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced this week that Hungary would involve Huawei in its 5G rollout. Szijjarto added that Huawei is likely to partner with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom on the rollout.

Related, China reportedly has switched on the world's largest 5G network. The 5G commercial services span 50 cities, most notably Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Citing Chinese state news agency Xinhua, CNN Business reports that “China Mobile (CHL), China Telecom (CHA) and China Unicom (CHU) are all offering 5G plans that start at 128 yuan ($18) for 30 GB of data per month.”

While that may sound inexpensive to some readers, users in China some have complained that entry level plan is more expensive than their current plans; further, notes the South China Morning Post, consumers need 5G-compatible mobile phones to take advantage of the new network.

“The cost of the cheapest data package is about what I spend on food for six days,” wrote on Weibo (China’s top social media platform) user. “I can’t afford it.”

Meanwhile, in South Korea, carrier SK Telecom has eclipsed 1.5 million 5G subscribers, “representing a share of 44% in the local 5G market,” reports RCR Wireless, citing SK Telecom CFO Poong-Young Yoon’s statements on a conference call with investors. He added that the company expects to end 2019 with over 2 million 5G subscribers, and to hit 7 million 5G subscribers by the end of 2020. 

In the U.S., the Department of Defense announced last week its intent to begin testing and experimenting with 5G at four U.S. military bases: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Naval Base San Diego, Calif.; and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga.

Per a DoD press release, these bases were selected “for their ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.”

The release adds that DOD plans new quarterly opportunities and will hold an industry day prior to issuing the final RFP. The first round of opportunities – pending funding -- will focus on:

  1. “Establishing a dynamic spectrum sharing testbed to demonstrate the capability to use 5G in congested environments with high-power, mid-band radars.
  2. Integrating Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality into mission planning and training in both virtual and live environments on training ranges.
  3. Smart Warehouses to leverage 5G’s ability to enhance logistics operations and maximize throughput.”

In civilian operations, San Diego-based Qualcomm Ventures launched a $200 million 5G Ecosystem Fund on Oct. 24, aiming “to help accelerate the adoption of 5G technology beyond smartphones,” reports the San Diego Business Journal.

Quinn Li, senior VP and head of Qualcomm Ventures, said he plans to make investments of between $1M and $10M from the new fund, applied to startups, over the next four to five years. He said target companies are likely to hail from three categories: companies creating new 5G use cases, “such as cloud gaming or augmented reality”; companies developing key wireless technologies for 5G networks; and “end-to-end solutions where 5G is used, such as connected factories.”