Huawei Mobile SA – 5G phones and routers landing locally regardless of spectrum

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Yesterday Huawei held a global press conference to showcase a range of new devices for the year, as well as what the Chinese firm has been working on for 5G and its app developer ecosystem.

We’ve touched on Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) before, with it being the company’s replacement to Google Mobile Services moving forward, along with featuring on new devices such as the Huawei Mate Xs foldable phone revealed yesterday.

But what about the status of the new and forthcoming 5G devices, especially with local spectrum yet to be made available in South Africa?

To find out what Huawei’s plans were in this regard we sat down with Huawei Mobile SA’s VP, Zhao Likun, and CTO, Akhram Mohamed.

“This year we will not only bring new smartphones, but new tablets, PCs, routers and some other devices to South Africa,” noted Likun.

As the pair explained to us, Huawei is committed to brining new mobile hardware to South Africa in 2020, with the country still retaining its status as a first wave nation for device releases. As such the new smartphone Huawei plans to unveil in Paris next month (date not confirmed) is scheduled to land in SA along with other first wave regions.

Said device will support 5G, as does the new foldable Mate Xs, and Huawei confirms that status of spectrum availability locally will not impact how it plans to roll out products in the country.

“We are not sure about the commercial launch of 5G networks in South Africa, but we will bring 5G smartphones into the country. This applies to the high-end to mid-range. Which type and which specification will depend on the requirement of our partners,” says the VP.

This not only applies to smartphones, but also the 5G routers and CPEs that the firm debuted last night too. While we await a wider roll out of 5G in SA, there are still firms like Rain who have access to the new broadband standard, and as such there is a market for Huawei to assist in serving.

“In terms of routers and CPEs, Huawei will be launching devices regardless of spectrum as there are service providers like Rain. It would not be rolled out as aggressively, as it is still a question of which territories and operators would be able to handle it, but those that can, it will be a ket part of their agendas,” says Mohamed.

“We are in discussions with operators to find out what their plans are and how fast they can do it, because some have capability to launch before spectrum is available, but perhaps not at the scale to cover all consumers in South Africa,” he adds.

While Huawei’s execs did not mention as much, having 5G-supporting smartphones in the country before other manufacturers, could also prove a smart tactic, particularly as there is still some doubt as to the user experience on HMS compared to the previous fully fledged Google ecosystem.

Either way 2020 will prove an interesting year for Huawei, both locally and globally, but on the 5G smartphone and hardware fronts, all systems are go according to the firm.

[Image – Huawei Mobile]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.