Huawei has briefed the industry on what to expect it to be shouting about at MWC and it won’t surprise many people; 5G, IoT and AI.
If you thought last year’s bonanza was heavy on the 5G chest pumping, wait till you turn up at the Fira in a couple of weeks. While last year was all about hype, if you talk listen to the vendors they are ready to go. The kit is primed, the trials are underway and the intelligence software is smarter than ever. The only thing holding back the 5G tidal wave is the operators.
Of course the operators are usually the ones who are blamed for the slow pace of change, but Huawei at least has some sympathy for their customers. It isn’t just the usecases where they need reassurance, the government needs to provide a helping hand as well.
Ryan Ding, Huawei’s President of Products & Solutions, was one of those executives who provided the sympathy for his customers. Rolling out networks which are capable of supporting the connected revolution is an expensive business and governments should be more proactive is providing support to the telcos.
This is a tricky situation of course. Many telcos will become shudder at the thought of inefficient and bungling government intervening in the process of progress, but when you consider the slimming profit margins this sector has faced over the last couple of years there needs to be assistance. But how?
The first idea from Ding surrounded Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), which can viewed as a dirty word from both sides of the equation. That said, Spain is an example where they are encouraged and are proving successful.
The second idea was down to spectrum. Spectrum licenses are expensive, especially in Europe, as governments look to cash in on lucrative assets. The only problem is that the more a government makes from a spectrum auction, the less money these operators have the actual equipment itself. CAPEX suffers and therefore the speed of adoption does as well. This is a trend which was visible in the 4G world, and looks like it is going to be repeated again.
Of course, this is not the case when it comes to some of the more forward-looking governments. Take Japan and China as an example. Spectrum costs less in these markets, therefore the operators have more freedom to spend elsewhere. China Mobile was used as an example. Ding claims the operator has rolled out 1.7 million physical sites for 4G connectivity over the last couple of years, more than Europe and North America combined, resulting in some of the best 4G coverage worldwide. The lesson here is to play a positive role, not just allow sticky fingers to swell public coffers.
According to the executives who were on parade today, Huawei is ready for 5G. As soon as operators realise there is not a silver bullet usecase for 5G, and the government starts to help the industry instead of bleeding it for every penny possible, the connected utopia might be here sooner than expected.