Attendees to the MWC19 Shanghai take photos in front of a 5G logo ahead of the event on Tuesday. (Photo: Global Times)
As the US continues to step up its effort to contain China's technological rise, particularly in 5G, Chinese companies are poised to show off their capabilities and advanced products for the upcoming era of ultra-fast networks at one of the biggest telecom industry events in Asia in Shanghai.
Technologies and applications for 5G are expected to take the center stage of this year's MWC19 Shanghai, which kicks off on Wednesday. In the face of US actions that threaten the global supply chain, industry players are also likely to highlight the importance of collaboration and reject US geopolitical games involving 5G.
"This year's MWC19 is like a victory parade for Chinese companies after the official release of 5G licenses," Huang Haifeng, a deputy chief editor of domestic industry news site cww.net.cn, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
It is also an opportunity to show the public what 5G experiences companies could deliver, he said, noting that the Chinese market offers massive growth potential for suppliers such as Huawei.
China has been widely regarded as the leader in 5G, which is reshaping a wide range of industries from logistics to manufacturing to healthcare to security. For example, Huawei has teamed up with the local police in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, by sending drones to help officers patrol, according to the company's demo at the MWC19.
5G will significantly accelerate the digitalization of Chinese society, enabling other industries to increase turnover and improve efficiency. From 2020 to 2025, the contribution of 5G to China's industry digitalization is expected to reach 11.9 trillion yuan ($1.73 trillion), according to a report released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology on Tuesday.
"I came here to learn about it and to see what is happening about 5G, and bring [experience] back to Brazil," Anibal Diniz, member of the board at the National Telecommunications Agency of Brazil, told the Global Times, noting that he was impressed by the experiences 5G technologies can offer.
Reject politics in 5G
While companies are likely to focus on showing off their capabilities and products, there is also one thing that they will need to address or ponder: the US' global crackdown on Huawei. For many, collaboration on technology will outweigh politics.
Vesa-Pekka Nikula, executive vice president of Finnish carrier Elisa, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Elisa adopts a multi-vendor strategy and uses Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei as suppliers for its networks, and believes that collaboration is crucially important for building the ecosystem for 5G - not only with equipment vendors but also with customers.
"The need for this cooperation will be growing in the future," Nikula said.
Other foreign carriers have also chosen Huawei equipment because of its quality and cost-effectiveness, and it seemed that many of them are not willing to become entangled in political debates that severely hamper global collaboration.
Huawei announced on Tuesday that it has secured 50 commercial contracts outside China in spite of growing US pressure. It helped carriers in countries including South Korea, the UK, Switzerland, Italy and Kuwait launch their 5G commercial networks in the first half of 2019. Huawei has shipped 150,000 base stations worldwide so far.
"Two-thirds of existing 5G networks on the global scale are supported by our technologies," Ding Yun, head of Huawei's carrier business group, told a summit on Tuesday ahead of MWC19 Shanghai.
"We've been doing just fine lately. We have to make sure of the continuity of our business, not by relying on inventory, but by investing in our core technologies ranging from chipsets to modules to the operating system," Ding said.
China Mobile aims to build the largest 5G network in China by building over 50,000 base stations and offering 5G services to over 50 cities this year.
By 2020, the major Chinese carrier will provide 5G commercial services to all the prefecture-level cities in the country.
Although Chinese telecoms firms may hit a tough road oversea if the US won't relax its sanctions, they still have a large room to grow in the Chinese market, analysts said.