UPDATE 1-Huawei in early 5G trials with 30 telcos; CEO rejects U.S. security fears

fears@ (Adds CEO comments on security, Australia, 5G field tests)

BARCELONA, Feb 26 (Reuters) - The chief executive of Huawei said on Monday the pace of commercialisation for next-generation 5G wireless network is picking up pace as the Chinese telecom equipment giant has begun pre-commercial development with more than 30 network operators.

Speaking to reporters at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, CEO Ken Hu also said he welcomed "factual debate" about any security concerns governments or network operators may have about security threats arising from its products.

Huawei is forging closer commercial ties with big telecom operators across Asia, the Americas and Europe, putting the company in prime position to lead the global race for future 5G networks, despite U.S. allegations it poses a security threat.

The Chinese equipment maker, which derives roughly half of its revenue from its home market, is conducting pre-commercial 5G trials in many of the world's biggest cities, including Seoul, Tokyo, London, Milan and Vancouver in Canada, Hu said.

Potential commercial benefits aside, these agreements indicate that many countries allied to the United States do not share Washington's security concerns. (http://reut.rs/2GKRE9d)

Asked about reports that the U.S. government has raised security concerns with the Australian government over Huawei's role in building communications in the country, Hu said the company is willing to work with authorities to ease any fears.

"We are very happy to conduct open and transparent discussion with the Australian government and telecom operators."On this issue we stay very positive and open".

A bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this month would bar equipment from Huawei from any U.S. government networks to prevent Chinese spying. Hu dismissed Washington's concerns that its products pose security threats as "groundless suspicions".

Huawei has signed 5G field trial agreements with 45 operators in total, the CEO said. Around 25 of those pre-commercial testing and field trial agreements have been publicly announced in recent years, according to Reuters data.

2018 will mark the first year of commercialisation for 5G, the CEO the maker of fixed line and mobile network equipment and the world's No.3 smartphone maker told reporters. "We have seen the emergence of real demand for 5G technologies," Hu said. (Reporting by Eric Auchard; editing by Jason Neely/Mark Heinrich)