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The 4pm bullet to Beijing stands ready to depart from platform 1 at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. Photo: SCMP

Huawei to deploy ultra-fast 5G telecoms network coverage at Shanghai’s railway hub in world first

  • Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station handles more than 60 million passengers every year
  • The station would be the first railway hub in the world to be equipped with 5G coverage, according to Huawei

Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment supplier, said it will deploy ultra-fast 5G network coverage at Shanghai’s Hongqiao Railway Station by the end of the year, making it the first railway station in the world that will allow passengers to experience data speeds up to 100 times faster than what is currently available.

The station will be built upon the 5G digital indoor system (DIS) co-developed by Huawei and China Mobile’s Shanghai unit, with the aim of achieving comprehensive indoor coverage for the entire premises by the end of 2019, the Shenzhen-based telecoms gear maker said in a release on Monday.

Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station is one of Asia’s biggest traffic hubs in terms of passenger throughput, handling over 60 million passengers every year with more than 330,000 people passing through each day during peak travel periods.

All of China’s major telecoms network operators are now testing 5G equipment across the country, with commercial 5G services expected to be rolled out nationwide in 2020. Many smartphone brands, including Huawei, has announced plans to launch 5G smartphones this year.

Passengers in the waiting hall of the Hongqiao Railway Station in Shanghai. Photo: ImagineChina

The deployment announcement comes as Huawei rotating chairman Xu Zhijun said that the biggest demand for the company’s next-generation mobile broadband hardware is in the Middle East and Asia.

In Europe, where it has an estimated 30 per cent of the market, Huawei’s presence is being questioned by a US government that is pressuring European countries to block the Chinese telecoms gear supplier on national security grounds, which the company has repeatedly denied.

Still, Huawei could be set for some reprieve, with the Financial Times reporting that the British government has concluded that any risks from the use of its equipment in 5G networks can be mitigated.

This conclusion would carry weight with other European leaders given the UK is part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network together with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, according to the report, which cited people familiar with the conclusion.

For the Shanghai deployment, Huawei said its indoor 5G technology can meet the need of telecom operators that have to ensure coverage for thousands of people simultaneously using the network to make phone calls, access the internet, and make mobile payments. This challenge is made more difficult because network signals tend to lose their strength inside buildings.

Huawei is expected to demonstrate its latest 5G foldable smartphone at MWC Barcelona, the world’s largest trade show for the mobile industry, later this month.

That smartphone will be equipped with Huawei’s own 5G multimode chip set launched in January.

Other Chinese smartphone makers, including Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi and OnePlus, are also expected to come up with their respective offerings this year after US chip maker Qualcomm released its latest flagship Snapdragon 855 chip in December, which could power most high-end Android 5G handsets.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Huawei to deploy 5G at Shanghai station