Martlesham Heath: Huawei pledges to invest £370m in superfast 5G mobile network

BT's Adastral Park complex at Martlesham Heath.
Photo: Mike Page

BT's Adastral Park complex at Martlesham Heath. Photo: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

Chinese technology giant Huawei has revealed plans to plough at least £370million into developing a new superfast mobile network allowing one-second film downloads.

Smartphone specialist Huawei, which also develops gear that underpins UK mobile and broadband networks, said it will invest a minimum of 600m US dollars worldwide in fifth-generation (5G) technology by 2018.

Huawei, which has a research and develoment centre at BT’s Adastral Park site at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich, and employs nearly 900 people in the UK, 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 chief executive Eric Xu said the investment will help connect billions of extra devices, such as cars, meters, medical devices and white goods. Huawei estimates that 6.5billion 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.

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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, 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.