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China’s Huawei seeks to dominate 5G standards development

March 30, 2018

China’s Huawei Technologies Co. is seeking to dominate the implementation of 5G standards despite U.S. government concerns about deployment of 5G technology from Chinese suppliers. Reporting from Chennai, India, site of recent Technical Specification Group (TSG) meetings on 5G standardization efforts, Newley Purnell and Stu Woo of The Wall Street Journal write that Huawei sent 40 representatives, second only to Samsung, with 41. Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Nokia sent 30, 25, and 18 delegates, respectively.

With respect to the delegate disparity, they quote Ericsson’s head of standardization, Jan Farjh, as saying, “We do not intend to flood the process. I think you compete with competence.” They quote a Huawei spokesman responding that the company “respects and follows the … standardization principles where debate and disagreement among members are common.”

In all, there were 395 delegates at the March 19-22 meetings from 176 member organizations, 3GPP reports, adding that progress was made on completing the first Release 15 specifications and on the finalization of functionality for the Standalone 5G NR option, due for its freeze at the next meeting in June 2018.

According to Purnell and Woo, Huawei has been a leader in 5G-standards submissions to 3GPP. “As of early 2017, it had submitted 234 contributions, compared with runner-up Ericsson’s 214, according to the latest data available from wireless-patent developer InterDigital Inc.,” they write.

In addition, they report, “Huawei said Friday it increased its research-and-development budget to $14.3 billion in 2017, up 17% compared with a year earlier. That is more than the combined 2017 total of Ericsson and Nokia, which respectively spent $4.6 billion and $6 billion, though, unlike Huawei, neither has a major consumer business.”

They add that U.S. leaders are trying to prevent a world in which most telecom electronics are made by Huawei and its Chinese peers. They also note that the Trump administration recently blocked Broadcom’s attempt to buy Qualcomm in an effort to avoid dilution of Qualcomm’s influence on 5G development and its own 5G R&D budget.

Purnell and Woo conclude their article by citing an additional conflict over the number of topics to be tackled at upcoming meetings, starting with the one in June. “They tentatively put about 20 topics on the group’s future agenda, according to attendees,” Purnell and Woo write. “That was more than what Ericsson wanted, but fewer than Huawei had pushed.”

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