While 4G mobile network deployment is still in its infancy worldwide, Huawei Technologies is gearing up to lead the rollout of faster 5G wireless systems in the next decade.
Huawei, the world's second-largest supplier of telecommunications equipment, expects 5G wireless networks to emerge between 2020 and 2030, giving credence to previous forecasts by Ericsson and Samsung Electronics.
Future 5G mobile networks are projected to have internet download speeds that reach 10 gigabits per second. It would beat by a huge margin the theoretical download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second that existing 4G networks, based on the technology called long term evolution, deliver. The fastest 3G networks run at 42Mbps.
Tong Wen, the head of Huawei Communications Technologies Labs, said: "There are a lot of innovations that need to be created and a lot of technology challenges that need to be overcome to create 5G solutions.
"At Huawei, researchers are studying new radio link technologies and radio access network architecture.
"We are also working on prototyping, and have conducted field trials on cloud-based radio access networks. We are playing a leading role in 5G wireless technology development."
The mainland has been early to look at the potential of 5G systems. In February last year, the government established a group to start 5G research.
Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, the state-owned telecommunications equipment maker, has also been pursuing research on 5G.
Swedish giant Ericsson, the world's biggest telecommunications equipment supplier, had earlier predicted that 5G could serve as an efficient wireless platform to manage the estimated 50 billion mobile-connected devices worldwide by 2020.
Tong said 5G, along with other key technologies, would help "essentially automate the entire society".
A paper by Agilent Technologies, a United States-based maker of electronic measurement equipment, said most of the recent studies on 5G described a high-capacity network with smaller base stations capable of supporting more simultaneous users than what is currently possible.
For Huawei, quickly developing its 5G expertise could put it in prime position to deliver advanced new products to market in time for another big cycle of mobile network upgrades worldwide in 2020 and beyond.
A recent report from Bernstein Research estimated that the bulk of global 3G network projects around the world have already been awarded. Meanwhile, the wave of 4G network rollouts has just started.