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5G took center stage at this year's Mobile World Congress, and for good reason: recent developments indicate that this revolutionary network is no longer a distant dream. The dawn of 5G will have reverberations across the world, but particularly in Lebanon, which is set to unlock the benefits of the digital transformation and gain enormously from 5G.

Huawei firmly believes in the power of 5G to transform society. In the future, all things will be connected: from bicycles to street lamps to water meters. Yet, strong network connectivity is essential to fostering these linkages. 5G is the foundation that will enable the digital integration of a myriad range of cutting-edge technologies, from self-driving cars, to virtual reality, to drones– nurturing the growth of 5G is therefore essential to the next stage of digitalization and the continued realization of the internet of things.

While the switch from 3G to 4G was mostly a matter of increased speed, the rise of 5G will unlock the potential for a flood of new technologies. In November, Huawei Wireless X Labs released a white paper on the Top Ten 5G Use Cases. These included cloud VR/AR, connected automotive, smart manufacturing, connected energy, wireless eHealth, wireless home entertainment, connected drones, social networks, personal AI assistant and smart city.

Because of our belief in the power of 5G, in 2018 Huawei will invest CNY5 billion in R&D in the field and launch a full range of commercial 5G equipment, including wireless access networks, bearer networks, core networks and devices. Additionally, Huawei will drive the large-scale commercial deployment of NB-IoT networks around the world and increase the number of NB-IoT connections to over 100 million.

We could summarize Huawei's role in enabling organizations to unlock the full benefits of 5G in three points:

Better connections: By building more connections and expanding data pipes, we are enabling industry-wide digitization and helping carriers fully leverage the power of 5G and cloud-network synergy.

Better business growth: We help carriers dig deeper into their installed base to maximize network value. We also help carriers develop video and IoT services to enable new business growth.

Better experience: Our digital operation & maintenance solutions enable agile business and intelligent and efficient operations. This helps carriers deliver a Real-time, On-demand, All-online, DIY, and Social (ROADS) experience.

For all our work to bring about the deployment of 5G networks, Huawei was honored to receive the 2018 GSMA Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Mobile Industry. This was not the only exciting event for us at MWC 2018. Following the an announcement by the 3GPP, a global association of telecommunications standards development organizations, of the release of a complete set of stage 2 level specifications which defined the 5G system architecture and set the industry standard for features and functionality for commercially operational 5G system, Huawei unveiled Balong 5G01. This is the world's first commercial 5G chipset supporting the 3GPP standard, and the first commercial 3GPP-based 5G device empowered by the chipset. It was a key breakthrough for the global 5G industry, leading us to believe that commercially viable 5G networks are closer than ever.

We have made great progress in bringing about the deployment of 5G networks, yet much remains to be done. One key challenge in the region has remained how to deal with existing network infrastructure as telcos seek to upgrade to 5G. Recent advances in technology are offering a potential solution.

Technology has a huge impact on every country's development and needs to be handled more seriously in Lebanon. The throughput of fixed network in Lebanon is lower than the average of the world; WTTx based on 4.5G/5G is a supplement. Huawei is a good partner of Lebanon's telecom industry, and there is a long cooperating history between Huawei and Lebanese operators.

Through its history, Huawei has shown a strong focus on research and development. From 2007 to 2016, Huawei's total R&D investment surpassed US$48 billion dollars, having invested $11 billion in 2016 alone. In recent years, Huawei has concentrated on building out the next generation of digital infrastructure by driving innovation in cloud, artificial intelligence and 5G technologies. It continues to funnel 10%-15% of its annual revenue back into R&D each year.

These technologies will bring huge value to consumers will be huge. Fast, reliable home coverage will become the norm, as will smart WiFi. More importantly, they are putting Lebanon one step closer to 5G, which will underpin the next leap forward for our intelligent world. In 2016, we signed a contract with Touch to deliver the first LTE- Advanced 4.5G contract in Lebanon, a leap forward in bringing 5G to the country. Lebanon is not far from entering the 5G world.

In this world, people, vehicles, homes and devices will be fully connected, delivering new experiences, insights and capabilities. In the past, we focused on connecting people. That was like planting a single tree. Now we're connecting everything. That's like planting an entire forest. Along with our partners in Lebanon and internationally, we are creating an ecosystem of organizations working together to deploy 5G and Build A Better Connected World. 

By Paul Fengnan, CEO, Huawei, Lebanon