As the global telecommunications industry determines the parameters of its next-generation network of superfast connections, one company is playing an outsize role: China’s Huawei Technologies Co.
The modern concept of a mobile-phone network was fathered by European and U.S. equipment suppliers such as Ericsson AB, Nokia Corp., which now includes the former U.S. giant Lucent, and Qualcomm Inc. They were critical in defining standards and then designing, manufacturing and rolling out the hardware, such as antennas, that underpin today’s globally adopted 3G and 4G high-speed networks.
More recently, Asian rivals, particularly Huawei, have gone on the offense, quietly using an obscure, international process now under way to define the next gold standard, so-called 5G, to challenge the established order. The upshot: A Chinese company all but banned from selling its telecom equipment in the U.S. on national-security grounds is in one of the best positions to help shape the technical standards that will determine how the new network will work.