According to a new report from research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics, China's Huawei provided more overall contributions to end-to-end 5G standards than any other company in the world.
"According to our assessment, leading infrastructure vendors – Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia – made more significant contributions to 5G standards than other studied companies," Strategy Analytics' Sue Rudd said in a statement. "Huawei leads in terms of overall contributions to the end-to-end 5G standards, while Ericsson leads in TSG [Technical Specification Groups] / WG [Working Groups] chairmanship and Nokia in approved/agreed ratio of 5G contribution papers."
The research firm said it assessed 13 leading companies' contributions to 3GPP's 5G standards for Releases 15 and 16, looking at the volume of submissions as well as leadership and working group participation. The firm said that it found Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and China Mobile were the top contributors to the standards.
"It is important to remember that the true nature of the standardization process is actually one of industry collaboration rather than competition," explained Strategy Analytics' Phil Kendall in a statement. "3GPP standardization continues to be a dynamic process. It is expected that emerging players and new market requirements will increasingly impact priorities for 3GPP Release 17 standards."
The 3GPP's Release 15 contained the global standards organization's initial 5G standards, and additional technologies are scheduled to be provided in subsequent releases.
US worries over 5G standards
That Huawei was the biggest contributor to the 3GPP's 5G standards will undoubtedly worry US lawmakers and regulators, who for years have argued the company poses a security threat to the nation. Huawei denies those allegations.
Apart from banning Huawei's equipment in the US and among US allies, some US lawmakers are also looking at Huawei's role in 5G standards and ways to counter that with US contributions.
"We must have a vocal presence at the standards bodies that are defining the rules for 5G. We have been woefully absent and need to make participation a priority," wrote Mike Rogers in a recent opinion column. Rogers is a former US representative who co-authored the 2012 US government report initially outlining the security threats posed by Chinese equipment vendors like Huawei and ZTE.
"We need to work with our allies to staunch the spread of Huawei and other Chinese companies owned by the state. We need to better communicate what Chinese dominance of 5G means. This is something we have not successfully done, as shown by Britain deciding to allow Huawei into certain elements of the 5G network," Rogers added.
Rogers now chairs the "5G Action Now" 501(c)4 advocacy organization, which has been working with the now-disbanded C-Band Alliance to speed up the C-Band spectrum auction in the US for 5G.
Indeed, legislation introduced early this year would require the Trump administration to develop a strategy to "promote United States leadership at international standards-setting bodies for equipment, systems, software, and virtually-defined networks relevant to 5th and future generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure, taking into account the different processes followed by the various international standard-setting bodies."
That legislation passed the House and is now headed to the Senate.
Companies' 3GPP contributions to the 5G standard don't necessarily translate into revenues. For that, companies must patent their inventions.
And according to one study, Huawei leads in that respect also. IPlytics recently reported that the Chinese firm has far and away the most "declared 5G families" of patents, and the most filed since 2012.
However, it's worth noting that UK law firm Bird & Bird argues that the reliance on such patent calculations isn't very insightful, and that different methodologies yield different results.