Huawei reveals 5G modem and base station chips

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Huawei’s plans to support the rollout of 5G networks have accelerated with the launch of new modem and base station chips that it says will ease deployment and enable a wider range of applications.

Balong 5000 is a multi-mode chipset that supports 2G, 3G, 4G and 4G on a single chip. It reduces power consumption and latency when moving between different modes, while enabling ultrafast speeds on multiple spectrum brands.

The theoretical peak on sub 6-GHz frequencies is 4.6Gbps and is 6.5Gbps on millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum.

Huawei 5G chips

Huawei bills the Balong 5000 as the first chipset to support both standalone 5G – which is based on 4G infrastructure -and standalone 5G which uses software-defined, disaggregated network architecutre.

Speaking at a product launch in Beijing, Huawei said the Balong 5000 is capable of serving operator customers at various stages of their 5G rollout and will enable a raft of new applications – not just mobile broadband – early in the lifecycle of next-generation networks.

"It will enable everything to sense, and will provide the high-speed connections needed for pervasive intelligence,” said Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group. “Huawei has an integrated set of capabilities across chips, devices, cloud services, and networks. Building on these strengths, as the leader of the 5G era, we will bring an inspired, intelligent experience to global consumers in every aspect of their lives."

The Shenzhen-based firm also detailed a new core chip for 5G base stations. The Huawei Tiangang promises support for a wide range of spectrum, support for large-scale integration of active power amplifiers and passive antenna, high compute capacity and the ability to control up to 64 channels thanks to on-board intelligence and beamforming technology.

The Tiangang chip is also 50 per cent smaller, 23 per cent lighter and consumes 21 per cent less energy than previous generation of chips. This is important for mobile operators because they have weight limits to consider when attaching new equipment to existing sites. In addition, Huawei claims 5G base stations will take half the time to deploy as 4G.

Huawei says it has signed more than 30 commercial contracts for 5G and has shipped more than 25,000 base stations around the world.

However, several countries are excluding the Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer from their 5G rollouts, while other nations are considering measures that would limit the company’s influence on their communications infrastructure due to national security concerns.

The main basis for these fears is a perception that Huawei is linked to the Chinese government and that the use of the company’s equipment risks the possibility of backdoors that could be used for espionage. These fears are heightened by 5G because of the sensitive information these networks will carry.

Huawei has repeatedly denied accusations of spying, pointing out that it works with security agencies around the world and that it sells products to more than 500 operators in 170 countries without issue. This includes the UK, where BT, EE, Vodafone and Three are all customers.