We had a chat with some top Huawei executives about the future of its gadgets and wireless connectivity. The Chinese company's huge plans for super-fast internet in the UK were revealed to be coming sooner than expected along with wearable tech and 5G wireless internet. While Apple leads in software, Samsung leads in hardware, Huawei is the leader in connectivity.
READ: EE 300Mbps 4G tests start in London's Tech City, customer trial in December
EE, in conjunction with Huawei, recently turned on 300Mbps 4G LTE-A in the Tech City area of London - the first in Europe of this speed. We were given a look at its 300Mbps home router which was using the 4G connection.
Sixteen screens were all streaming Full HD video via one category six connection. A speed test showed it peaking at an amazing 277 Mbps. And that was with 40 people in the area already on the EE connection sharing that bandwidth.
The only problem is no Huawei phones support those speeds yet, with limits at the 150Mbps mark. But it seems less of a mistake and more of a tactical wait by the communications hardware specialist.
300Mbps 4G LTE-A is made for Huawei handsets, by Huawei
The first 300Mbps home router will be available for consumers in Q2 of 2014. Smartphones that support this level of connection are on their way too but no dates are being announced just yet. Huawei appears to have something up its sleeve.
"Our hidden gem, that people really don't see much is our dongle business," said Colin Giles, EVP of Consumer Business. "We're number one in the world in that space. That's about bringing miniaturised, high speed data connectivity. When you look at that, and the fact that 50 per cent of our consumer business group work in R & D, we believe LTE is a brilliant opportunity for use - bringing everything from handsets to tablets to mobile broadband devices." Huawei spent $4.3 billion (£2.7 billion) in R & D in 2012 alone.
It seems the wait to release a handset was timed so it would be one that's better than anything out there now. Giles went on: "Because we work with carriers we have an early view of what is required so we can then feedback into our R & D for handset developments."
Huawei believes that with the incoming data tsunami we need more than a pipe the size of the Amazon river, we need it the size of the Pacific - and with over 40 per cent of 4G in the world rolled out by Huawei, that's what it's preparing for, at both ends.
For the first time EE says it's seeing greater rates of upload than download over 4G. That two-way growth in data, largely because of video, will mean 4G LTE-A is even more sought after in the near future. Just look at Vine, Snapchat, Facebook and of course YouTube to see why.
Wearables are in Huawei's future
"The next stage in our business is having a completely connected world. From the connected home, which is already progressing with the modules Huawei provides, to connected cars which we're also involved in – and then wearables," says Giles.
"The miniaturisation is key for wearables and we've got that capability - that's a space we'll be playing a part in." Asked if he was talking about watches, he said: "Wearables can be anything from messaging devices, browsing devices, health and fitness, or education - it's still a little unclear where that is going."
When said we would love to see an affordable connected watch with built-in GPS, Giles said: "Without saying that's what Huawei is doing, we have the capability with our dongles, where we've miniaturised RF and Wi-Fi, these things will be needed in wearables in the future."
The future is 5G fast
As to where Huawei stands with it's chipsets, Shao Yang, VP of device marketing, said: "In cat four at 150Mbps chips we are one year ahead of Qualcomm. For cat six at 300Mbps we are still leading by one year in the industry."
As a result of this Huawei claims to be able to offer faster devices than anyone else. He went on to point out Huawei will be able to offer these powers, not only at a higher quality, but at a more competitive price too. With public plans to hit 10Gbps wireless speeds by 2020 it's clear Huawei will be leading the way.
Stylus isn't everything
When we asked about introducing a stylus, we were told: "Our R & D department has another innovation, that offers a really cool experience, but we can't talk any more on that just yet." Perhaps something linking into its move into wearables then?
And Colin Giles said: "Where we see an opportunity for us is in innovation in general. That comes through the strong R & D department. We wouldn't rule anything out. It needs to be focused on consumer benefits though."
One last thing
We had to ask about BlackBerry and HTC, who have potential investors waiting, one of whom was named as Huawei. "We will not be making offers to BlackBerry or HTC but we would like to partner. We will be partnering companies - but no investment or buying,' Said Giles. "It's all about building a strong ecosystem which makes opportunities like in the connected home or car. This allows us to work with these companies."
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