BT ‘to try 5G services in London next year’, says Huawei boss

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Huawei rotating CEO Ken Hu says BT close to agreeing plan to start 5G trial in central London in 2018

BT’s EE mobile network is to try out 5G mobile network in London in 2018, in a project with Huawei.

Ken Hu, Huawei’s current CEO, said at a company event in London this morning that he expects the trial to take place, though he cautioned that the matter is still under discussion with mobile carriers.

Another Huawei executive confirmed that a deal is still not signed but is likely to be agreed in early 2018, with the trial starting later in the year. That executive, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said that the Chinese vendor is also in discussions with Vodafone about a UK trial.

Hu, who is one of three senior executives who are rotating CEOs of Huawei, said the company is also working with Telefónica about a trial in Spain.

Johan Wibergh, CTO of Vodafone group, said at the same Huawei event in London that his company has just switched on the first base station in a 5G trial in Milan that by 2019 will see 120 base stations providing 5G across the city. “We will be trying out 41 different use cases with 28 partners,” said Wibergh, who was head of Ericsson’s networks business until April 2015.

Hu said that Huawei is working with Deutsche Telekom and Orange as well as EE, Telefónica and Vodafone on 5G projects.

An EE official told GTB: “Huawei is our RAN [radio access network] company of choice,” but was unable to confirm details of the trial.

However the executive said that many base stations in London are already able to operate at 3.5GHz, the band that will be used for 5G services. That would allow a 5G trial to begin shortly after EE and Huawei signed the deal.