Huawei reportedly working on a 5G-powered 8K TV: What does that mean?

Huawei is the world’s second-largest maker of mobile phones after Samsung, but the telecom giant has never produced a TV. That appears to be about to change, if a report from Nikkei Asian Review is accurate. Citing “sources familiar with the plan,” the publication claims that Huawei is working on an 8K TV that will have a 5G mobile data connection built-in, which would make it the first TV to do so.

It’s not the first time such a pairing has surfaced — Foxconn has been touting its plans to build “5G+8K” TVs in Wisconsin, since 2017 — but so far, no actual products have been confirmed. Samsung, Sony, LG, TCL, and several other manufacturers all have 8K models on sale or planned for release later this year.

As odd as it might sound to build a high-speed mobile data modem into a TV, it’s one possible answer to a recurring question about 8K as a format: How do you supply the vast amounts of bandwidth that 8K content currently requires, over existing internet connections to the home? Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a fiber optic pipe running directly into your house, the odds are good that you do not possess the necessary bandwidth to power an 8K TV, even if there was plenty of 8K content to watch (for now, there isn’t). Theoretically at least, 5G would solve the bandwidth problem. With potential speeds that could reach 20 gigabits per second, a single 5G connection would be sufficient for up to 200 simultaneous 8K streams. Huawei’s TV would reportedly also act as 5G hub, letting you share all of that bandwidth with other devices in your home, much the way we currently do with our cable/DSL/fiber modems.

But plenty of challenges remain. It’s no secret that Huawei has been facing an uphill battle with the United States and many of its allies over allegations that the company’s equipment can be used for spying, something Huawei has repeatedly denied. In March, it elected to sue the U.S. government over its decision to ban the sale of Huawei equipment. Recently, British telecom giant Vodafone claimed it had discovered backdoors in Huawei telco gear. Then there’s the actual availability of 5G. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile are all aggressively pursuing 5G rollouts in the U.S., but with different kinds of network technology. With a tradeoff between the speed of a connection, and how far a 5G signal can travel, real-world bandwidth over 5G connections could vary substantially.

For now, there’s no word on how big Huawei’s 5G 8K TV would be, whether it would use an LED, QLED, or OLED display, or how much it will cost.

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