China’s three state owned telecom operators have announced their subscriber totals for the month of December and for all of 2023. China’ Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said the big three had a combined net increase of approximately 24.82M 5G package subscribers in China, boosting their combined 5G package subscriber base to nearly 1.373B.
As of the end of December, 5G package subscribers accounted for 80.2% and 78.1% of China Mobile’s and China Telecom’s total mobile subscriber bases, respectively.
C114.net reported that 3.377 million 5G base stations have been built, constituting 28.5 percent of the total mobile base stations. There are 23.02 million ports with gigabit network service capabilities. More than 80% of administrative villages nationwide now have 5G connectivity, telecoms portal.
The foundation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is constantly being consolidated, with mobile IoT terminal users accounting for 57.5% of the total number of mobile network terminal connections. Technological industry innovation and development, the commercial deployment of 5G customized base stations and 5G lightweight technology, and the launch of the world’s first satellite communication smartphone, 6G, quantum communication, artificial intelligence and other innovative capabilities have significantly improved.
- China Mobile ended last year with 794.5 million subscribers to its 5G package (contract), while its total mobile subscriber base reached 991 million.
- China Telecom had a total of 407.7 million mobile users, of which 318.66 million had signed up to a 5G package (up by 50.7 million during 2023).
- China Unicom’s 5G package subscriber total hit 259.6 million by the end of last year, though disclosure on total mobile subscribers has not been provided. China Unicom also reported that there were 8,563 “virtual 5G industry private network” subscriber for the month of December which was an increase of 554 month-on-month and up 4,758 since the end of 2022.
Mobile Subscriber Stats for China’s Three Main Carriers (Unit: Millions)
|% of Combined
Installed 5G Sub Base
|Net Change Since
|5G Package Subs
|5G Package Subs
|5G Package Subs
China’s fourth 5G telecom network operator, China Broadnet, saw its 5G user base surpass 20 mln on October 19, the company revealed at the 2023 World 5G Convention held in Zhengzhou from December 5-7. Since that time, however, China Broadnet has not publicly released any updated 5G subscriber statistics.
Broadnet officially launched 5G network services just 19 months ago, on June 27, 2022. Because Broadnet is not yet reporting its 5G subscriber totals on a regular, monthly basis, Marbridge is not yet integrating its totals with those of China’s three more established telecom operators above.
The Chinese telecom operators specifically report numbers for 5G packages, rather than citing 5G service users or connections, as while customers may have signed up for a 5G service package offer, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a 5G-enabled device that enables them to hook up to their network operator’s 5G network, or indeed that their service provider is offering 5G services in their area just yet.
In addition to the growing 5G market in China, the fixed broadband segment is also very large. China Mobile had a total of 298 million wireline broadband customers at the end of December 2023, and throughout the year it added a total of 26 million fixed customers. China Telecom had 190 million fixed broadband subscribers by the year end, having added a total of 9.26 million wireline broadband users in 2023. China Unicom’s operational statistics for the last month of 2023 did not provide a breakdown of broadband customers.
According to a January 21,2024 article in the South China Morning Post, Nokia is set to exit its joint venture with Huawei in the telecommunications sector due to US-China tensions. Nokia has found new buyers for its majority stake in a Beijing-based joint venture with Huawei Technologies, after a proposed deal fell through last year following strong protest by the Chinese partner. The article states that Nokia will sell its majority stake in TD Tech [1.] to a group that will be jointly controlled by Huawei and a group of entities that include the government-owned Chengdu High-Tech Investment Group and Chengdu Gaoxin Jicui Technology Co, as well as venture capital firm Huagai, according to a disclosure published on Friday by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR).
Huawei had a 14% share in the Chinese smartphone market in the third quarter 2023, putting it in fifth place behind its spin-off Honor and rivals Oppo, Vivo and Apple, data from market intelligence firm Counterpoint Research showed. According to Statista, Huawei had a 58% share of all 5G base stations in China as of the 3rd quarter 2023. Its closest competitor was ZTE with a market share of 31%. Nokia had only a 2% market share.
China Unicom Jilin, the local affiliate of China Unicom in the Jilin province, has completed the deployment of a 2.1 GHz 8T8R 5G network for a segment of the national Harbin-Dalian high-speed railway with 5G network equipment from Huawei.
Tests show that 8T8R AAUs increase the coverage area by 44% compared with 4T4R, and 5G user experience improves by 5.2 times compared with 4G. The train passengers can heartily access the network for entertainment such as HD video, live streaming, and New Calling as well as for work on-the-move such as remote video conferencing.
In 2023, China Unicom embarked on a 5G coverage project along China’s sixteen trunk high-speed railways. Its affiliate in Jilin province contributed to its share of constructing the province’s premium 5G network for high-speed railways within the provincial borders. At first, this network construction project was daunted by four serious challenges. To begin with, the distance between sites is large. What’s worse, the penetration loss was greater with high-speed railways than common railways. Additionally, high-speed mobility increased the Doppler shift, a direct cause of performance deterioration. Lastly, user experience was poor due to short camping time caused by frequent handovers (every 3–4 seconds) on trains running at a high speed of 300 km/hr.
To address these challenges, in this project, China Unicom Jilin deployed the 2.1 GHz 8T8R AAU, and activated the High-speed Railway Excellent Experience feature and Cell Combination feature.
The 2.1 GHz 8T8R AAU solution integrates with technologies like multi-antenna, integrated high-gain array, intelligent beamforming, and precise and fast beam sweeping. Compared with 4T4R, it improves coverage by 7.5 dB, user experience by an impressive 55%, and capacity by 85%. This solution solves the problem of poor coverage caused by large distances and large insertion loss on high-speed railways. It also uses the same antenna as the legacy 4G 1.8 GHz network, simplifying site deployment and reducing tower rental by 10%. This series of solutions with Huawei FDD beamforming technology took home the GSMA GLOMO award for “Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough” and was listed in the “Guangdong Province Energy Saving Technology and Equipment (Product) Recommendation Catalogue”, issued by the Guangdong Energy Bureau in July 2023, for its excellent performance in energy saving.
After the High-Speed Railway Excellent Experience feature is enabled, the 5G base station proactively adjusts the signal frequency to offset the negative impact caused by frequency offset. This solves the Doppler shift problem in high-speed railway continuous coverage scenarios. After Cell Combination feature is enabled, the number of inter-cell handovers can be reduced in a cell combination network, which solves the problems of fast handovers and short camping time on high-speed railways. Test results show that after this feature is enabled, the access success rate increases to 99.4% and the call drop rate decreases by 57%. This overcomes the difficulties of difficult network access in ultra-high-speed scenarios.
This commercial deployment of the 2.1 GHz 8T8R AAU solution will greatly facilitate the operator’s future plans for similar 5G rollouts. China Unicom Jilin will continue to explore 5G network deployments in different scenarios as well as innovative applications of 2.1 GHz 8T8R in order to build differentiated 5G advantages based on service requirements in various 5G scenarios.
ABI Research: Telco transformation measured via patents and 3GPP contributions; 5G accelerating in China
Omdia: China’s 5G network co-sharing + cloud will create growth opportunities for Chinese service providers
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said that in the first eleven months of 2023, the telecommunication industry’s collective business revenue soared to 1.55 trillion yuan, approximately 218 billion U.S. dollars, marking a 6.9% year-on-year increase.
Emerging sectors such as big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have shown significant growth. China’s three state owned network providers, China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom have leveraged these technologies to catalyze a 20.1 percent surge in revenue from these areas, amounting to 332.6 billion yuan.
Cloud computing and big data have experienced explosive growth. Revenue from cloud computing surging by 39.7 percent and big data by 43.3 percent compared to the previous year. These figures underscore the central role of data-driven technologies in powering China’s telecom industry forward.
Broadband internet services continue to be a strong revenue stream for the three telecom giants, generating 240.4 billion yuan from January to November, which is an 8.5 percent increase year on year. This growth reflects the increasing demand for high-speed internet across China, as the country continues to embrace digital transformation in all sectors.
In conclusion, China’s telecommunication industry’s growth narrative in 2023 is not just a story of numbers but a chronicle of technological evolution and its integration into the fabric of society. With emerging sectors leading the charge, the industry’s upward trajectory seems poised to continue, as these technologies become increasingly embedded in the everyday lives of businesses and consumers alike.
Separately, Mordor Intelligence forecasts the China Telecom Market size is expected to grow from USD 478.92 billion in 2023 to USD 547.43 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 2.71% during the forecast period (2023-2028).
After building the world’s largest 5G network with 2.3 million 5G base stations by the end of 2022, China is on track add over 600,000 5G base stations and reach 2.9 million by the end 2023, according to new Omdia market research (owned by Informa). A key milestone in terms of China’s co-building and co-sharing 5G networks recently took place in May 2023, through the 5G network collaboration between all the four service providers in China. Under the organization and guidance of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the four major mobile operators in China – China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Broadnet, jointly announced the launch of what they claimed as the world’s first 5G inter-network roaming service trial. The service enables customers to access other telecom operators’ 5G networks and continue using 5G services when outside the range of their original operators’ 5G network.
Ramona Zhao, Research Manager at Omdia said: “Omdia expects inter-network roaming to improve operators’ 5G network coverage particularly in rural areas. Driven by better 5G network coverage, 5G will overtake 4G’s leading position and become the largest technology in China’s mobile market by 2026. By the end of 2028, we anticipate 5G will account for 65.1% of the total mobile subscriptions (including IoT connections).”
An advertisement for 5G mobile service at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Image Credit: DIGITIMES
Omdia deems China as a 5G pioneer in terms of many areas, including technology innovation, network deployment, and 5G use cases. Driven by the increasing 5G adoption, Chinese service providers’ mobile service revenue and reported mobile (non-IoT) ARPU have all achieved year-on-year (YoY) growth in 2022. China Telecom reported an increase of 3.7% in its mobile service revenue; China Unicom‘s mobile service revenue saw a YoY increase of 3.6%; while China Mobile’s mobile service revenue also increased by 2.5% YoY.
Owing to the digital transformation demand from various state-owned enterprises, cloud services are also considered a growing business for Chinese service providers.
“Omdia recommends that Chinese service providers innovate more applications through the integration of cloud and the 5G network. This will be vital to enable the digital transformation of various industries and the acquisition of new revenue streams,” concludes Zhao.
According to a previous GSMA report, dubbed “The Mobile Economy China 2023”, 5G technology will add $290 billion to the Chinese economy in 2030, with benefits spread across industries.
“Mainland China is the largest 5G market in the world, accounting for more than 60% of global 5G connections at the end of 2022. With strong takeup of 5G among consumers, the focus of operators is now increasingly shifting to 5G for enterprises. This offers opportunities to grow revenues beyond connectivity in adjacent areas such as cloud services – a segment where operators in China have recently made significant progress,” the GSMA report reads.
5G will overtake 4G in 2024 to become the dominant mobile technology in China, according to the report. “4G and 5G dominance in China means legacy networks are now being phased out. While most users have been migrated to 4G and 5G, legacy networks continue to support various IoT services. However, some estimates suggest that legacy networks could be almost entirely shut down in China by 2025,” the study reads.
Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies has secured over half of a major contract to deploy 5G mobile base stations for local carrier China Mobile, according to recent reports by Chinese media.
Huawei obtained over 50% of the total of China Mobile’s centralized procurement program in 2023.
The report also stated that Huawei will provide 5G base stations for different frequency bands. The bands ranging from 2.6 GHz to 4.9 GHz will have around 63,800 stations, divided into two projects, while the number of base stations to operate in the 700 MHz band will be 23,100, divided into three projects. ZTE was the second-biggest winner in terms of base stations, followed by Datang Mobile Communications Equipment, Ericsson and Nokia Shanghai Bell.
China Mobile is preparing to deploy 400G optical links and expects to call its first tenders by the end this year. At the 2023 China Optical Network Symposium on Thursday, Li Han, director of the Basic Network Technology Research Institute of China Mobile Research Institute , gave a speech and revealed that China Mobile has confirmed the availability of 400G technology and will start the centralized procurement of 400G products at the end of this year to promote 400G to enter the commercial stage. “It’s time for 400G, and the industry is looking forward to it.”
China Mobile completed the world’s first 400G QPSK pilot with vendor partner ZTE in March, achieving high-speed transmission over 5,616 kilometers of ultra-long-distance land real-time live network transmission. The verified computing power network 400G all-optical network technology is the core technology of the next-generation intergenerational evolution of the backbone transport network.
Li Han believes that 400G is an intergenerational technology of optical communication and a disruptive technology. The reason is that 400G optical communication has entered the broadband era, and the C6T+L6T band is disruptive to the entire system including core optical devices. Specific to the application scenario, the backbone network considers the long distance and adopts the QPSK method, and the metropolitan area network considers the cost, and mainly deploys 16QAM-PCS or 16QAM. In different scenarios, different techniques are used.
China Mobile’s 400G research and development has gone through 5 years. From 2018 to 2021, it will mainly study 16QAM-PCS or 16QAM; in 2022, with the development of 130G baud rate optical modules, the industry chain will turn to QPSK driven by the three major manufacturers. This is of decisive significance to the development trend of 400G.
Li Han finally emphasized that 400G still needs to continue to improve technology, such as EDFA, which needs to substantially integrate C-band and L- band . In terms of optical fiber , research on anti-resonant hollow-core optical fiber should be promoted.
In a white paper, China Mobile said Jiuzhou would encompass 400G optical connectivity and a distributed cloud architecture, with edge computing and three levels of latency, from 1 millisecond in the city to 20 milliseconds in the countryside. The paper said the 400G OTN would initially be deployed at major computing hub nodes, then in the backbone.
A major driver of China Mobile’s optical plans is a government scheme to build out China’s national “computing power network” – a chain of data centers and high-speed fiber links that will support the new computer-intensive era of AI, deep learning, 5G Advanced and the industrial Internet.
One key part of this is the East-West plan, in which data from the industrialized eastern seaboard is being hauled to lower cost, renewables-powered data centers in the less developed west over high-speed links. So far China Mobile has deployed more than 40 super-large data centers with more than 1.3 million racks and over 1,000 edge nodes.
Li said the telco’s 400G R&D had initially focused mainly on 16QAM-PCS and 16QAM, but last year had turned to QPSK, driven by breakthroughs from three domestic vendors.
Zhang Bin, vice president of FiberHome’s network business unit, said he believes 400G OTN will dominate optical fiber for the next ten years. But he said Chinese manufacturers would need to invest more in R&D to keep pace with the large-scale rapid rollout
HKBN reported it had a 34 per cent share of Hong Kong’s residential broadband market and 37 per cent of the enterprise market at end-2022. In late March, HKBN’s board said it was approached about a potential take over by I Squared Asia Advisors, the same asset management company that owns Hong Kong ISP HGC Global Communications.
Others showing interest include global investment company PAG, Bloomberg wrote, noting potential buyers may team with HKBN management for a buy out.
A sale in 2022 was halted by potential buyers including KKR and PAG due to concerns over the valuation.
HKBN was sold to CVC Capital Partners in 2012 in a management buy out and was listed in 2014.
Reuters reports that China state-owned telecom firms are developing a $500 million undersea fiber-optic internet cable network that would link Asia, the Middle East and Europe to rival a similar U.S.-backed project, four people involved in the deal told Reuters. The plan is a sign that an intensifying tech war between Beijing and Washington risks tearing the fabric of the internet.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI finds that China is further ahead in more technologies than has been realized. It’s the leading country in 37 of the 44 technologies evaluated, often producing more than five times as much high-impact research as its closest competitor. This means that only seven of the 44 analysed technologies are currently led by a democratic country, and that country in all instances is the U.S. Of the ten AI and ICT-related technologies examined, China dominates in seven, the study concluded.
The ASPI study is based on an analysis of the top 10% most-cited papers in each area of research published between 2018 and 2022 – a total of 2.2 million papers. It acknowledges that a widely cited piece of research does not automatically translate into successfully deployed technology. The study also does not reflect the current state of commercialization or of technology diffusion. Here’s a table showing China leading technologies:
Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
China leads globally in photonic sensors (43% of world’s top 10% high-impact research, 3.41 times the US), quantum communications (31%, 1.89 times the US), advanced optical communications (38%, 2.95 times the US) and post-quantum cryptography (31%, 2.3 times the US). Taken together, these observations increase the risk of Chinese communications going dark83 to the efforts of western intelligence services. This reduces the capacity to plan for contingencies in the event of hostilities85 and tensions.
China has reportedly built the physical infrastructure to claim the world’s largest quantum communication network,86 and has even established quantum communication with moving drones87 and satellites.88 As with many things, the risk is cumulative—the risk increases as China leads in both cryptography resistant to decryption by quantum computers and the ability to share encryption keys via quantum communication. One mitigating factor is the current US lead in quantum computing (34% of world’s top 10% high-impact research output, 2.26 times China).
Here are three key tech areas where China dominates in high-impact research papers:
- In advanced radiofrequency communications, including 5G and 6G, (there is no such thing as 6G radio) China ranks 1st with 29.65% vs 9.50% for the U.S. and 5.2% for the UK.
- In advanced optical communications, China ranks 1st with 37.69% vs. 12.76% for the U.S.
- In artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms and hardware accelerators, China ranks 1st with 36.62% vs. 13.26% for the U.S.
The ASPI report designates China’s lead in these technologies as “high-risk,” meaning it is a long way ahead of its closest competitor and that it is home to most of the world’s leading research bodies in that field.
Quantum communications is another area of strength for China. USTC is the top institution irrespective of the quality metrics, and a total of eight out of 20 top institutions are based in China (see Figure 9). Tsinghua University and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands occupy the second and third places depending on the quality metrics. China’s lead in quantum communications is especially prominent in the proportion of publications in the top 10% of highly cited papers. China’s quantum research was spearheaded by the Xiangshan Science Forum for quantum information in Beijing in 1998, which resulted in experimental research in quantum information within several Chinese universities and research institutes, including USTC, Shanxi University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics.
USTC scientist Jian-Wei Pan to demonstrate the potential of quantum communications to Xi Jinping and other Politburo members, and he became known as the founder of Chinese quantum science. In China’s Thirteenth Five-Year National Science and Technology Innovation Plan announced in August 2016,163 the CCP strengthened its quantum strategy further by listing quantum communications and computing as major science and technology projects for advances by 2030. USTC demonstrated China’s dominance in quantum communication by building the first fibre-based ‘Beijing–Shanghai Quantum Secure Communication Backbone’ in 2013, connecting Beijing, Shanghai, Jinan Hefei and 32 reliable nodes over a total transmission distance of more than 2,000 kilometres.164 The strength of quantum communications is that it ensures secure communication due to quantum entanglement, which effectively ensures that any quantum information is modified when observed. This effectively makes it difficult to amplify quantum signals in the conventional way used for current optical communications. Pan’s research team made another significant breakthrough in 2017 by using the first quantum satellite (Micius, launched in 2016), and the free space reduced attenuation to transmit image and sound information using quantum keys over 7,600 kilometres between Austria and China.
ASPI warns that China’s advanced research “at the intersection of” photonic sensors, quantum communications, optical communications and post-quantum cryptography could undermine the U.S. led “Five Eyes” global intelligence network.
“Taken together, these observations increase the risk of Chinese communications going dark to the efforts of western intelligence services,” the report said. ASPI said its research will be updated with the aim of assessing the future tech capabilities of nations and to highlight long-term strategic trends.
China’s MIIT to prioritize 6G project, accelerate 5G and gigabit optical network deployments in 2023
In northern China sits Tianjin port’s “Smart Hub” – a fully digitalized and automated wharf where quay cranes, gantry cranes, stackers and forklifts are all controlled by a command center miles away. Powered by Huawei Technologies’ 5G telecommunications infrastructure, the smart port can move 36 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) per hour, much faster than humans.
“Digitalization is the industry trend, a direction not just for Chinese ports, but for all global ports,” Yang Jiemin, vice- president of Tianjin Port (Group), said during a recent visit by the South China Morning Post. “Our goal is to build a digital twin to Tianjin port in the next three to five years,” he added. The benefits of automation are clear. A staff of 200 operators and engineers can manage 1 million TEU in annual throughput at Tianjin port’s Terminal C, about 25 per cent of the employees needed in a typical year during its pre-digital age. The future has more in store: artificial intelligence (AI) for predicting congestion, big data analysis for parsing traffic trends and driverless trucks – all made possible by the ultra-fast exchange of data in 5G networks.
Shenzhen-based Huawei, with 195,000 employees in 2021 and one of the world’s largest research budgets, surpassing even that of Google and Microsoft, is now promoting the advantages of 5G-enabled digitalized services to modernize the backbone of China’s industrial production in coal mines, ports and even hospitals.
As U.S. sanctions tightened around Huawei’s access to critical technology, the firm’s smartphone business, which beat Apple to become the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker in 2018, came under tremendous pressure. Deprived of Google’s Android operating system and short of vital components, it sold its Honor budget smartphone business in 2020, the biggest driver behind its spectacular success. Huawei then pivoted back to its mainstay enterprise business, opening up new data-heavy products and services for customers to increase their usage and dependence on its 5G infrastructure.
The company established “legions” to spearhead the effort, a nod to the military parlance much liked by founder Ren Zhengfei, who served in the People’s Liberation Army. These cross-departmental business units were established to help clients digitally transform their products and services in mining, customs clearance and ports, energy savings at data centres, smart highways and the photovoltaic industry.
Last June, Huawei added five legions, bringing the total to 20. While it has not disclosed details about each legion, the chief executive of its airport and road legion, Li Junfeng, said the company was hopeful about the digitalization of transport.
“Airports and roads are also key infrastructure and it is difficult to expand in the overseas market. So we do not have plans for global expansion in the short term, but we will make some changes next year,” Li said in November, according to the state-owned Securities Times financial newspaper.
For Huawei, hopes are high that such industrial infrastructure can turn into a source of steady revenue – at least domestically – although the firm has declined to divulge the financial details of its showcase applications.
Huawei’s efforts to forge deeper ties with traditional industries build on its past work with the world’s private enterprises, leveraging its 5G connectivity and computing power to automate and upgrade various verticals, says Matthew Ball, chief analyst at research firm Canalys.
“Overall, this is an extension of what Huawei has done for years, even before the US sanctions, particularly its enterprise business, which had a strong vertical focus on delivering solutions across its portfolio,” Ball said.
“It’s just that its smartphone business has received more headlines.”
The jury is still out on whether Huawei can survive US sanctions, especially given Western reluctance to allow it future access to potentially sensitive data and network infrastructure contracts on national security grounds. The company has already undergone huge change since Trump added it to a trade blacklist in May 2019, barring it from doing businesses with US partners without special permits.
Huawei’s rotating chairman, Eric Xu, said in a new year’s message that the company had exited “crisis mode” and was ready to go “back to business as usual” in 2023. The bleeding has been staunched after it reported preliminary revenue of 636.9 billion yuan (HK$736.3 billion) for 2022, little changed from the previous year.
The pressure remained on Huawei even after Trump lost his re-election bid. Reports emerged last month that Joe Biden’s administration was considering cutting off Huawei from all its US suppliers, including Intel and Qualcomm, which produce the semiconductors critical to the company’s telecoms gear.
Huawei has been reporting its annual results since 2000 even if it is not subject to public disclosure regulations, a practice from bidding for tender contracts in public telecoms networks.
The share of China revenue in its overall business has increased from about half in 2018 to around two-thirds in 2021 due to a retreat from almost all overseas markets, including the Asia-Pacific, the Americas and Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to its results.
Its consumer business, mainly smartphones and devices, has been hobbled by a lack of access to advanced chips.
At one point, Huawei briefly surpassed Apple and Samsung Electronics to become the world’s biggest handset vendor, but it is now out of the top five. By the third quarter of 2022, it finally ran out of less advanced in-house- designed semiconductors for its handsets.
Huawei’s carrier unit, once its bread-and-butter business of selling telecoms gear, has slipped as China’s telecoms operators gradually complete network upgrades. In 2021, its carrier business revenue was 40 per cent lower than in 2019 when China began 5G infrastructure installation.
That leaves enterprise as the only segment with growth, notching up a 2.1 per cent revenue increase in 2022, although its contribution was still less than one-sixth of total sales.
At the beginning of 2021, Huawei founder Ren told employees the company must make cloud computing its priority, and personally endorsed the firm’s partnership with coal mines.
The company is developing customized 5G mobile base stations for the mining industry that are resistant to dust, dampness and even shock waves from explosions. These devices are expected to support stable and fast upload of real-time data from unstaffed machinery, sensors and high-definition cameras, which would help China’s most dangerous industry cut back on the number of people working in the pits. The mining industry would be the first to use the model where scientists and experts from different corporate departments could come together to find solutions to specific industry problems, Ren said in 2021 in the Shanxi provincial capital of Taiyuan.
Enhancing end-to-end user experience, real-time processing of massive data and the operation, maintenance and management of complex networks would all become challenges for the financial industry in the future, according to a June speech by Cao Chong, the head of Huawei’s digital finance legion, the Securities Times reported.
Huawei has also made a foray into the electric-vehicle sector, with the high-profile launch of Aito cars, a brand launched jointly with Chinese electric-car maker Seres. However, competition is cutthroat in China, and Huawei ranked only sixth among the country’s electric-vehicle start-ups with a total of 76,180 units by the end of 2022. The company has also forged ties with a series of carmakers offering smart car components.
The change in Huawei’s business is visible to consumers. On the ground floor of its Shenzhen flagship store, a three-storey building with a huge glass facade, customers approached a row of Aito cars during a recent visit, asking sales representatives about vehicle specifications and available discounts. At the other end of the showroom, Huawei’s latest smartphones and tablets were on display on long wooden tables. While analysts are generally sanguine on Huawei’s new enterprise business moves, the digitalization push is not expected to result in a short-term revolution.
“The enterprise business should be able to generate rapid growth in the next five to 10 years,” said Ivan Lam, a senior analyst at Counterpoint Research. But the threat of US sanctions remains the biggest obstacle for Huawei, according to Lam, especially for products that require advanced computing power such as smartphones, servers and car components.
“Huawei has never treated existing sanctions as the last, and it has been preparing for new restrictions in various ways, such as adoption of domestic technologies. We expect Huawei to reap the benefits of these efforts in coming years and close the gap in key technologies,” ” Lam said.
Separately, the South China Morning Post reported that Huawei Technologies Co chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei, is expected to take her turn as “rotating chairwoman” in the company from April, according to local media reports, signalling that a succession plan looks to be in place at the struggling Chinese telecommunications giant.
It would mark the first time that Meng, 50, has assumed the role since she was added as one of three rotating chairmen at Huawei in March last year, alongside Eric Xu Zhijun and Ken Hu Houkun. Xu’s current acting chairman term started on October 1 last year and will conclude on March 31.
During her six-month turn as the company’s top leader, Meng, who also serves as deputy chairwoman at Huawei, will head the company’s board of directors and its executive committee.
Meng was hailed as a national hero upon her return to China in a chartered flight in September 2021, following nearly three years under house arrest in Canada where she fought extradition to the US over a bank fraud case. Under a deal reached with US prosecutors, that case and other charges against Meng were dismissed last December.