Press Association –
A technology giant has announced plans to plough at least £370 million into developing a new superfast mobile network allowing one-second film downloads.
Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, which also develops gear that underpins UK mobile and broadband networks, said it will invest a minimum of 600 million US dollars worldwide in fifth-generation (5G) technology by 2018.
Huawei said 5G technology could be 100 times faster than new 4G networks currently being rolled out by UK mobile operators, and be in action by 2020.
Technology firms are devising ways to meet the proliferation of mobile devices including smartphones and tablets, as users download and stream huge volumes of data ranging from films to music.
Huawei has its UK headquarters in Reading and employs almost 900 staff at 15 UK offices, including a research and development centre in Ipswich.
Huawei chief executive Eric Xu said the investment will help connect billions of extra devices, such as cars, meters, medical devices and white goods.
It estimates 6.5 billion people worldwide will be hooked up to mobile networks by 2020.
Mr Xu said the new network will mean download speeds of more than 10 gigabits per second, allowing people to “download high-definition movies in one second and provide a true-to-life video communications experience”.
The group has already worked on European 5G research, helping establish a 5G Innovation Centre at Guildford in Surrey.
Mr Xu said Huawei’s investment will ” ensure that we are meeting the consumers’ demands for increasingly faster and better connections”.
He added: “We have already achieved many technological breakthroughs in 5G research and innovation, but the majority of the work remains ahead of us.”
The money will help explore ways to exploit airwaves to handle increasing volumes of data transmitted at faster speeds.
The sum does not include the firm’s investment plans for products such as 5G handsets.
Huawei has provoked controversy in recent years and was recently banned from working on a new broadband network in Australia over cyber security concerns, which the company said were unjustified.
Britain’s national security adviser Sir Kim Darroch was tasked during the summer with investigating operations at the company’s cyber security evaluation centre – known as the Cell – in Banbury, Oxfordshire, following concern from MPs.
Huawei, which was founded by a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army, first became a major player in the UK when it signed a deal to supply transmission equipment to BT in 2005.