News Feature | September 17, 2019

The Week in 5G: 9/17/2019 — Huawei CEO's Stunning Offer To U.S., Ericsson and Qualcomm Complete Standalone 5G Data Connection

By Ed Biller


Huawei dropped a bombshell — rather, an olive branch — on the Trump administration recently when CEO Ren Zhengfei offered to engage in everything-reasonable-on-the-table discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), reported the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman. Huawei also dropped its lawsuit against the U.S. government, which stemmed from the Trump administration’s decision to bar the telco’s equipment from U.S. usage, citing a security risk.

Additionally, Zhengfei offered to license “the entire Huawei 5G platform to any American company that wants to manufacture it and install it and operate it — completely independent of Huawei.”

Forbes contributor Jeb Su writes that the U.S. companies “would be allowed to modify as they see fit the software code used to run any of Huawei's 5G  equipment or even change it and use their own.” Su notes that this transparency may be an effort to “allay fears that the Chinese company might be able to access these licensed American made 5G telecommunications gears to spy for the Chinese government.“

Both the U.S. and Chinese Governments would have to approve any deal Huawei reaches with the DoJ.

Related, U.S. legislators want to add nearly half a billion dollars to the Pentagon’s 2020 budget for cybersecurity measures, “in particular asking the department to include security features enabling its weapons and information systems to safely operate on future 5G worldwide wireless networks,” reports Roll Call.

The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended a $436M boost the Defense Department’s research and development budget, earmarked for its “5G-XG” program, which works toward 5G communications safeguards. Roll Call reports that the committee also proposed an additional $100 million in DoD funding for other cybersecurity initiatives.

Back in China, carriers China Unicom and China Telecom — numbers two and three among that nation’s top three carriers — inked a deal to combine efforts in their respective 5G network build-outs, as well as share 5G frequency bands to enhance their subscribers’ access to 5G networks, reports ZDNet.

The deal’s intent is to cut costs and better compete with China Mobile, which is closing on one billion mobile subscribers (!).

In the U.S., in a bid to sweeten the pot for early adopters despite a limited wireless 5G rollouts thus far, Verizon is promising to offer "5G Home" Internet service — as an alternative to wired internet — in every market where it deploys 5G mobile service, reports Ars Technica.

Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, meanwhile, announced last week their joint  completion of a standalone 5G data connection. According to an Ericsson press release, the milestone was achieved “in an Ericsson lab using commercial Ericsson Radio System base stations, Ericsson standalone New Radio (NR) software and Ericsson’s 5G Cloud Core solution with a mobile smartphone form-factor test device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System.”

The test, which was compliant with global 3GPP 5G NR specifications, was touted by the companies as a significant step toward standalone deployments that use a new 5G core network to better enable Industrial IoT (IIoT) and enterprise-grade cloud services.

Qualcomm also snatched up one of its partners this week, acquiring TDK Corp.’s stake in the joint venture developing radio frequency front-end chips, reports the San Diego Tribune. TDK Corp.’s stake in the venture — which makes filter, amplifier, and tuner modules for smartphones — is valued at $1.15B.

“With this acquisition, Qualcomm can provide smartphone makers with an end-to-end chip package from 5G cellular modems and applications processors to radio frequency front-end chips,” states the article.

Battery life remains a concern with 5G handsets, but one study has determined that 5G actually uses less power than 4G at peak bitrates while drawing more for basic tasks.

VentureBeat reports that “5G devices are actually capable of delivering greater energy efficiency than 4G LTE models,” citing a new study by the Signals Research Group (SRG). However, notes the article, “5G’s power advantages and disadvantages don’t matter much, since other elements of phone usage — particularly the backlight — have much larger impacts on battery life than the cellular chip.”