Connecting to the next stage of innovation

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Published: April 25, 2016 6:10:22 AM

Huawei, the Chinese ICT player, which had revenues of over $60 billion in 2015, is betting big on a connected world with investments in Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G telecom services. At the annual Huawei Analyst Summit (HAS) 2016, held in Shenzhen, China, the most common consensus was to better connect the world.

Huawei, the Chinese ICT player, which had revenues of over $60 billion in 2015, is betting big on a connected world with investments in Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G telecom services. At the annual Huawei Analyst Summit (HAS) 2016, held in Shenzhen, China, the most common consensus was to better connect the world.

Huawei, a privately-owned company, has grown several folds since its inception. If you are reading this article on a wireless connection, there is a fair chance of router/modem being developed by Huawei. If you are on a cellular network, there is a very high possibility of the network being powered by Huawei’s equipment. Inspite of a significant presence in enterprise segment, this Chinese firm’s own brand exposure is highly limited. It now wants to change that completely.

Huawei started HAS 2016 on a high note. The company revealed its Global Connectivity Index 2016 and laid out its plans for building a better connected world. Huawei says Global Connectivity Index gained 5% and for the first time, telcos managed to achieve gigabit speed on a 4G connection.

But Huawei’s real ambition is to connect people to things and things to things. William Xu, Huawei’s executive director of the Board, said, “At Huawei, we want to shake hands with the world and harness energy over a cup of coffee.” He later openly made an announcement asking global companies to join hands to build a better connected world.

While the buzz is around a better connected world, it’s important to understand how Huawei aims to accomplish that. For Huawei, the better connected world is the one where gigabit Internet speeds reach everyone and every household has an IoT ecosystem. Put simply, the talk is around ecosystem and not just limited to devices.

Huawei’s future is not just restricted to IoT and connectivity. During his keynote speech, Huawei’s rotating CEO Eric Xu said, “VR is easily perceivable and telcos are better positioned to provide video services.” Huawei is very clear on its stance: the next growth segments are definitely VR and IoT but their need is gigabit internet—which only Huawei can offer at the moment via different telcos. The company is betting big on digitisation and total cloudification in order to make sure that telcos are able to better manage their services once they deploy gigabit internet speeds.

Huawei says it will fully cloudify it’s network/operator devices this year. Though digitisation is not new to telecom operators, the company wants apps and services to move to the cloud. It claims there is a need for connecting enterprise IT to external customers and partners.

Huawei sees voice services as a key driver for telcos but believes the experience isn’t compelling yet and voice over LTE or voice over broadband is seen as the solution. Interestingly Reliance Jio, which is set to launch its 4G services sometime soon, is pitching the very VoLTE service as its USP. While we are yet to see good 4G services in India, Huawei has already started 5G field tests with NTT Docomo.

Huawei says 5G will arrive five years from now and standards will be framed in 2020. While that may be a distant vision, the company is working to better 4.5G services. LTE Advanced (or 4.5G), a concept proposed in 2014 will evolve over the next years and will help mitigate users to the eventual era of 5G. In addition, the company believes that smartphones with 1 Gbps chipset will launch next year. For record, Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5 already support upto 600 Mbps.

The Chinese ICT firm is also bullish on the future of IoT. It is building an ecosystem rather than a product. Huawei’s IoT ecosystem evolves around its own Lite OS powered by narrow band networks and complemented by connectivity management platform. It sees deployment of IoT in the field of smart metering for electricity, water or agriculture.

The best use case yet for an IoT ecosystem is a smart parking app which allots parking space to a vehicle from within a mobile app and easily enables for charging parking fees. There is already wide deployment of such parking systems across China and US and Huawei sees more adoption for such a system in other countries sooner than later.

The writer was in Shenzhen at the invitation of Huawei

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