Despite the relatively nascent state of commercial 5G mobile networks, Huawei is starting initial research into 6G at their R&D center in the suburbs Ottawa, Canada—amidst an open question of whether or not Canada will ban the Chinese company from providing 5G technology to mobile network operators.

Mobile network generations work in roughly nine-year life cycles—competing standards for 3G began deployment in 2001, while 4G deployment began in 2010—making the prospect of 6G a distant one, despite calls from President Trump in February to deploy 6G technology in the US.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Huawei’s research into 6G was discussed by Song Zhang, vice-president of research strategy and partnership for Canada, in a presentation at Huawei’s research facility, according to a report from The Logic, which also reports that Huawei “has also begun speaking with academics at some of Canada’s top research universities about developing the technology.”

No single company dominates the creation of wireless network standards. Standards are a product of consensus, and proposals for different aspects of a given standard are presented in various industry forums, in which the merits—and potential avenues for refinement—are considered. The process of standardization is handled by the 3GPP, an industry consortium that publishes standards for wireless technologies to ensure interoperability between products from competing vendors.

Huawei’s Ottawa facility is strategically important, as wireless technology researchers were hired away from Nortel in 2009 to begin research on 5G, “ahead of the Canadian company’s eventual collapse,” The Logic reported.

A potential ban on Huawei equipment in Canada could be disruptive for Bell and Telus, which use Huawei equipment in existing network installations. Canadian public safety minister Ralph Goodale told the CBC that a decision is “unlikely” to occur before elections in October, noting that the Canadian government needs more information from the US government about the nature of a potential security threat.

For more, check out “Huawei’s new smartphone operating system is ‘completely different from Android and iOS’” and “5G-capable notebooks are coming, and Huawei could be the first to market” on TechRepublic.

Huawei’s Research & Development Centre in Canada
Image: Paul McKinnon / Getty Images