Mobile operator 3 Hong Kong plans to deploy cloud-based network by early 2019, eyes quick 5G debut
Evolution into 5G network to be ‘much smoother and straight forward’, says CEO of parent company Hutchison Telecom
3 Hong Kong, the mobile telecom arm of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, said on Monday it plans to deploy a fully cloud-based core network by the first quarter of 2019, as it tries to steal a march on debuting 5G mobile services in the city.
Although an international agreement on frequency bands and universal standards for 5G will not be reached until late next year, Hutchison Telecom chief executive Cliff Woo Chiu-man said 3 Hong Kong has been working with Huawei since 2016 to move its 3G and 4G core networks to the cloud, a move that will help it evolve into its 5G network architecture.
“With a fully cloudified core network, which we now target to complete by the first quarter of 2019, our evolution into 5G network services will be a much smoother and straight forward process,” said Woo. The Hong Kong government is likely to assign spectrum for 5G services after the international agreement is reached; with the roll-out of commercial 5G services expected in 2020.
5G boasts of speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, or 10-12 times faster than 4G mobile technology. It also supports one million connected devices per square kilometre, taking Internet of Things to the next level.
With a latency of just 1 millisecond, or the amount of time a packet of data takes to get from one point to another, 5G will widen the scope of the commercial applications of drones and the remote control of heavy industrial machinery in risky environments, said Woo.
Major telecom equipment manufacturers, including Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson and Nokia will have network infrastructure equipment ready by the end of this year or early 2019, he added.
Woo, however, did not disclose any financial details about Hutchison Telecom’s collaboration with Huawei. Operators such as 3 Hong Kong and SmarTone have been conducting indoor and outdoor tests after getting temporary permits from the Communications Authority. 3 Hong Kong has been conducting trials in the 3.5 gigahertz, 26 GHz and 28 GHz mobile spectrum bands.
The International Telecommunications Union, the United Nations agency overseeing development of the IMT-2020 standard for 5G technologies, is spearheading the so-called spectrum harmonisation – the uniform allocation of radio frequency bands around the world – for the provision of 5G services.