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Huawei to boost Canadian investment as new wireless technology looms

A sales assistant looks at her mobile phone as she waits for customers behind a counter at a Huawei booth in Wuhan, Hubei province in this October 10, 2012 file photo.

DARLEY SHEN/REUTERS

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. plans to ramp up investments in Canada as part of its global research and development of next-generation wireless technologies.

The Chinese telecom gear maker announced Wednesday that its Canada Research Centre in Ottawa would play a starring role in its international work on so-called 5G (fifth-generation) technologies, which promises to bring consumers blazing fast data speeds.

For its part, Huawei is forecasting that 5G wireless networks will be capable of supporting data speeds that are up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks. That could allow a consumer to download a high-definition movie in one second flat, while enabling billions more web-connected devices such as cars, refrigerators and medical equipment.

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Although 5G is unlikely to be rolled out globally until 2020, a number of major companies including Huawei, Samsung and Ericsson are already conducting research as they vie for technological supremacy.

Huawei, which began investing in 5G in 2009, plans to spend another $600-million (U.S.) on its global 5G research by 2018.

Although the company is not providing details on how much of that money will be spent in Canada, it stressed that its Ottawa research facility would play a "pivotal role" in spearheading its global R&D.

Since 2010, Huawei has spent $80-million on R&D in Ottawa, some of it for 5G.

"Huawei has put a tremendous R&D effort in 5G research and innovation" said Wen Tong, an Ottawa-based Huawei Fellow, in a release.

The Chinese company's plans include 5G research projects that are being conducted in partnership with Canadian universities.

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