Chinese OEM Vivo has partnered with national carrier China Mobile to create what the two companies are calling the 5G Device Forerunner Initiative, announced at MWC 2018. The initiative involves a number of other players across the Chinese mobile scene, and the goal is to begin development on pre-commercial 5G devices in order to conduct network tests and foster research and development of 5G networks, equipment, and user-facing devices. The initiative brings 20 different organizations from every section of the mobile space into close collaboration, including the likes of chipset makers, component makers, and network equipment makers, among others.
The project is led by China Mobile officially, but Vivo was the first one to make a promise based on the new initiative. It wants to have at least one 5G-ready smartphone up for testing in 2019, and then have at least one commercially available 5G-enabled device in its portfolio in 2020. Vivo and China Mobile have worked together on early 5G solutions before, including basic 5G capability testing on special lab devices, and the creation and testing of a solution that's made to significantly pare down the power draw of 5G antennas and other equipment on the smartphone side, making it possible for 5G devices developed and released in the near future to boast longer battery life.
Vivo is working closely with China Mobile on the initiative and has also worked with Qualcomm on developing 5G solutions for the Chinese market. The company's focus on collaborating to develop and build out 5G solutions makes it one of the top candidates to have a consumer-facing 5G device ready either at the same time that 5G networks are rolling out in China or before that. The 5G Device Forerunner Initiative is essentially the near-final stage of this progression and will see Vivo working with partners across the industry to help China Mobile put out functional, consumer-facing 5G as quickly as possible. That same collaboration will help Vivo be among the first to add truly 5G devices to its portfolio. Natrually, this arrangement is likely to bode well for China Mobile's customer base when the time comes for the carrier to begin rolling out a next-generation network and devices.