T-Mobile Poland claims to be the first off the 5G starting block in its domestic market, announcing the launch of what it described as the “first fully functional” 5G network in the Eastern European country with the support of Huawei Technologies.
The Deutsche Telekom subsidiary said the network is currently available in the center of Warsaw, although plans are afoot to extend coverage gradually throughout the entire country depending on the spectrum licensing plans of the Polish regulatory authorities. T-Mobile Poland said it has distributed the first devices that enable access to the 5G network to select business customers and partners. And it will also showcase applications to visitors at what it has dubbed the #5G_Lab.
At launch, the network comprises four base stations based on the 5G New Radio (5G NR) standard, using 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum and equipped with 10 Gb/s fiber optic backhaul links. Deutsche Telekom commented that the set-up in Warsaw is similar to that of its 5G test network in Berlin. Worth noting here is that Orange Poland has also just announced testing of what it proclaimed to be the first commercial 5G base station in the country.
T-Mobile Poland confirmed that Huawei is the sole vendor supporting the 5G network. Indeed, the China-based vendor is a long-serving network partner of Deutsche Telekom, and the two companies have been collaborating on 5G-network research since 2015.
However, the use of telecom equipment in 5G networks from both Huawei and ZTE has become an increasingly sensitive issue – just as China itself prepares for its own 5G future with the award of 5G spectrum licenses to China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Union to enable them to conduct trials ahead of a commercial launch in 2020.
BT said last week it will avoid using telecom equipment from Huawei in the core of its future 5G network, which will be operated by mobile subsidiary EE. Meanwhile the U.S. government has already reportedly been trying to pressure allies in countries such as Germany, Italy, and Japan to avoid using equipment from Huawei.
In August, the Australian government banned Huawei and ZTE from providing 5G equipment to that country’s telecom providers due to security concerns. New Zealand and Japan followed suit in December by blocking Huawei equipment from 5G networks; Japan is also said to have blocked the use of equipment from ZTE . In November, Germany was considering a similar ban. And then, Huawei’s’ chief financial officer, who is also the daughter of the founder of Huawei, was arrested in Canada at the request of the United States.
This has all served to put Huawei and China on the defensive. According to a report by Global Times, Lu Kang, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, pointed to the fact that companies from more than 20 countries have signed commercial 5G deals with Huawei, and insisted that the Chinese vendor is a trusted partner.
Certainly, Huawei maintains a strong grip on the telecom equipment market as a whole, according to the latest figures from Dell’Oro Group. The research company said Huawei captured a 28 percent share of the market at the end of the third quarter of 2018 and increased its market share by 4 percentage points between 2015 and the first nine months of 2018. During this period, Ericsson’s and Nokia’s market share declined one and three percentage points, respectively. Although details on performance in the different network categories was not revealed, it was noted that Huawei’s revenue share gains over the past four years have been most pronounced in the core, router, and optical transport markets.
Dell’Oro added that Huawei’s telecom equipment revenue is nearly as large as that of Nokia and Ericsson combined. The top five equipment manufacturers are Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Cisco, and ZTE, and together they account for about 75 percent of the worldwide service provider equipment market revenue.