US-based technology company Qualcomm’s 5G strategy reflects its heavy dependence on the Chinese market, as global suppliers of telecoms equipments need to work closely when next-generation wireless technology comes into reality starting in 2019, experts said on Wednesday.
The semiconductor producer unveiled its Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 at its third-annual Snapdragon Tech Summit on Tuesday in Hawaii, which enables commercial use of 5G in the next year.
“5G will be rolled out starting in the first half of 2019. We’ll see 5G device launches and network rollouts across the US, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia and China,” Qualcomm said in a statement.
South Korea smartphone maker Samsung said during the summit that it will release one of the first 5G smartphone in the US powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855, according to a tweet by Neil Shah, partner at CounterPoint.
While major smartphone makers such as Apple and Huawei are working on proprietary chipsets to reduce reliance on Qualcomm, the decision by the largest smartphone maker – Samsung – to use Qualcomm’s latest chipset indicates that the US company still has a leading position in the sector, Xiang Ligang, chief executive of telecom industry news site cctime.com, told the Global Times.
“It’s not necessarily that Qualcomm 855 chipset will have a better performance than Huawei’s upcoming Kirin 990 chipset,” he said, noting that Chinese firms have become driving forces in 5G development.
Huawei Technologies is expected to unveil its next generation of the chipset Kirin 990 in the first quarter of 2019, which will also be the company’s first 5G chipset, media reported in November.
Frank Meng Pu, chairman of Qualcomm China, recently told the Xinhua News Agency that the company has been forging reciprocal relations with Chinese partners in recent years, and it will deepen cooperation with the supply chain in the country to embrace the 5G era.
While China holds an open attitude toward foreign companies in pushing forward 5G development, countries such as the US, Australia and New Zealand are taking a hostile stance toward Chinese companies.
“Blocking the participation of Chinese companies in 5G commercialization will hinder the global development of the next-generation technology, as this industry is highly integrated,” Xiang said.
In January, Qualcomm signed deals of less than $2 billion with Chinese smartphone makers such as OPPO, Lenovo and Xiaomi, and it will help them differentiate their 5G products. The US company has been working closely with telecoms carriers including Chinese ones to accelerate 5G use, Qualcomm told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In China where 5G is being rolled out, the country does have a strong chance of dominating 5G, especially as there is going to be a merger of China United Network Communications Group Co and China Telecommunications Corp, Kevin Curran, professor at Ulster University, told the Global Times in an interview.
“This will allow them to consolidate their offerings in 5G and speed up its development. There is indeed a feeling in the industry that Chinese companies are leading the way,” he added.