Huawei champions 5G infrastructure efforts ahead of MWC 2019

huawei logo at a conference

Tech giant Huawei has provided more details of its 5G infrastructure rollout, confirming plans to expand into Africa, providing inexpensive network coverage to some of the most rural and dangerous areas.

The western world is joining in greater numbers to exclude Huawei's network infrastructure amid concerns of spying from China. But many are still hesitant to oust the company's telecoms tech entirely, UK and Germany included, because of its technology which is claimed to be 'market-leading', but as of yet, we haven't really known why.

That changed today when Ryan Ding, executive director at Huawei, briefed journalists about what Huawei is doing to get ahead of the pack.

First, he spoke about Huawei's new Balong 5000 5G modem, a 5G chip which he claimed to be 2.5 times faster than anything else on the market, despite Qualcomm announcing its Snapdragon X55 as the fastest on the market only a day earlier.

The real kicker was that Huawei's 5G infrastructure, called the super blade base station, is apparently better because it's more power-efficient than its competitors on both the equipment and network levels. This, the firm claims, ultimately means that it will be more effective and cheaper to run - an obvious double-edged selling point.

Huawei's equipment runs supposedly 30% more efficiently than the other 5G infrastructure vendors thanks to its new advanced access point (AP) powered by the Balong 5000 and a new intelligent algorithm.

Its new 5G active antenna unit (AAU), the device which transmits the 5G signal, also facilitates network optimisation, leading to around a 10% network power saving as a result of its power optimisation at the site.

The AAU is 55% smaller and 23% lighter than its 4G model, making it much easier to install to than previous AAUs, saying that it would take four man-hours to install rather than 7.5 man-hours for a 4G installation.

The impressive announcements were unveiled after the slightly embarrassing introduction to proceedings.

A video call made over Huawei's 5G network between Ryan Ding and representatives from Vodafone, BT (curious) and Three, was slow and full of interruptions. It was supposed to be an impressive segway into the company's announcements but it went a bit wrong for them, much like a lot of things recently.

But, from there on, we were treated to more information about its 5G infrastructure

Global expansion

Peng Song, president of Huawei North Africa said that Huawei would be expanding its 5G efforts into Africa and other rural and remote regions.

"Huawei's vision is to bring digital to every person and organisation," said Song and that's what Huawei is aiming to do with its RuralStar Lite solution. It's essentially a smaller, more mobile version of the super blade base station, that will be deployed in urban and more advanced environments.

The RuralStar Lite will be aimed at areas in Africa where there is little-to-no network coverage and villages in the area comprised of less than 1,000 people account for many of the 740 million people still left unconnected to the internet.

The scaled-down site can shorten to just six metres and the capital expenditure (CAPEX) on it is much lower at $20,000 compared to the $150-200,000 CAPEX of an urban super blade station, making it more affordable for less affluent regions.

It will also be solar powered as opposed to the traditional diesel-powered sites in the region which means switching to the RuralStar Lite would save a further $20,000 annually on fuel costs. The ROI will be reduced too, from ten years of a traditional site to just two. The new rural sites aim to cover regions from the jungle, to mountains, to deserts.

This could be an answer to Africa's networking issue whereby fixed broadband infrastructure won't be a necessity, skipping over the expensive process other developed countries have gone through.

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.