Huawei Connect 2022: It’s Cloud Native everything!

Huawei’s annual flagship event, Huawei Connect 2022 –“Unleash Digital” opened in Bangkok, Thailand today.

  • Ken Hu, the Rotating Chairman of Huawei, spoke about the importance of cloud adoption for enterprises to achieve leap-forward development.
  • Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Huawei Cloud, announced the launch of two new Huawei Cloud regions in Indonesia and Ireland, as well as the “Go Cloud, Go Global” program for enterprises to access expertise and experience from Huawei Cloud’s global ecosystem partners.
  • By the end of this year, Zhang said that Huawei Cloud will be deployed in 29 regions and 75 availability zones, covering 170 countries and regions worldwide. At the core of its offering is Everything as a Service built on a cloud-native foundation to enable enterprises to innovate faster and accelerate digital transformation.

Zhang Ping’an, CEO of Huawei Cloud

Editor’s Note:  The top four Cloud service providers in China are Alibaba Cloud, Huawei Cloud, Tencent Cloud and Baidu.   That’s very different from the U.S. where the leaders are Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

Huawei Cloud has already set up 13 localized service centers in the Asia Pacific, with more than 1,000 certified engineers to provide tailored services. In addition, ecosystem development has been fruitful, with more than 2,500 local partners generating more than 50% of the revenue of Huawei CloudHuawei Cloud is also forging ahead with industry-government-academia collaboration in the Asia Pacific. Investment in the Huawei ASEAN Academy and the Seeds for the Future Program will be used to cultivate more than 1 million digital experts over the next five years.

Huawei Cloud serves 80% of the 50 biggest Internet companies in China and more than 200 major Internet companies in the Asia Pacific. In Sarawak, MalaysiaHuawei Cloud, together with its partners, has built cloud native infrastructure to support the collaboration of more than 30 government departments in five fields, and provided more than 80 digital government and smart city services to ensure more efficient and better-informed decision-making. In IndonesiaHuawei Cloud has provided a unified data foundation to help CT Corp migrate its media, retail, and finance services to the cloud, enabling precise recommendations for 200 million Internet users. The cloud native technologies of Huawei Cloud have helped Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) in Thailand quickly roll out its digital loan service. Loan approval and issuance, which used to take one month of work, is now fully automated and can be completed in just five minutes.

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To address this pain point and unleash digital productivity for thousands of industries, Zeng Xingyun, President of Huawei Cloud, APAC, shared a three-pronged approach: to act with strategic resolve, embrace cloud-native and cultivate digital talent.

Zeng Xingyun, President of Huawei Cloud, APAC

Zeng emphasized long-term planning and a top-down approach to drive collaboration between IT and business departments to modernize blueprints and architecture based on cloud-native technologies. With 90% of enterprises in developed countries already using cloud technologies and 80% of all applications to be cloud-native by 2023, Zeng noted that cloud-native delivers efficient use of resources, agile applications, intelligent services and a secured system that helps government and enterprises stay compliant and grow sustainably.

In his speech, Zeng noted that Huawei Cloud has served more than 200 top Internet enterprises in Asia Pacific and 80% of the top 50 Internet enterprises in China. Huawei Cloud has 13 service centers in Asia Pacific, but more notably, Huawei Cloud is the first public cloud vendor to build local nodes in Thailand, with three availability zone data centers serving the local market.

He spoke about how cloud-native drives digital transformation in public and private sector, elaborating on how Huawei Cloud supports Siam Commercial Bank’s (SCB) automated processes to approve large volumes of loan requests within minutes, helping SCB attract 45,000 digital users and a credit limit worth THB 204 million within a quarter.

He also highlighted the importance of a talent ecosystem to address a digital talent shortage amounting to 47 million by 2030 in Asia Pacific. Through industry-academia cooperation such as the ASEAN Academy and the Seeds for the Future Program, more than 1 million digital talents will be cultivated in the next five years. Meanwhile, the Huawei Cloud Startup Program, aimed to help regional startups adopt cloud agilely, has already attracted more than 120 Asian enterprises since its recent launch. One such enterprise is ReverseAds, a Phuket-founded startup that has successfully secured US$24 million in funding to expand beyond Thailand.

The summit also saw the joint launch of Cloud Native Elite Club (CNEC) APAC by Huawei Cloud and Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). First established in China two years ago, CNEC gathers over 200 members working collaboratively to develop industry standards and promote cloud-native technologies in China. Likewise, the APAC branch will look to further cloud-native technologies.

Cloud-Native 2.0 for Industry Enablement:

An important driving force for service innovation, cloud-native technologies such as container, microservice, and dynamic orchestration empower enterprises to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments.

As cloud-native enters a new developmental stage, Fang Guowei, Chief Product Officer of Huawei Cloud, shared that Cloud Native 2.0 is a new phase for the intelligent upgrade of enterprises, focused on delivering Everything as a Service incorporating Infrastructure as a Service, Technology as a Service and Expertise as a Service to yield breakthroughs in digital transformation for government and enterprises.

An advocate of cloud-native innovations with open source, Huawei Cloud has contributed to the CNCF with open source projects including KubeEdge, Volcano and Karmada, hence growing the CNCF community from 1 Kubernetes project in 2015 to more than 20 categories and over 1,100 projects today.

Huawei Cloud delivers cost-effective cloud services with the innovative full-stack QingTian Architecture, featuring ultra-fast I/O engine, end-to-end security and enhanced operations and maintenance.

Adding to its offerings are more than 15 cloud-native products and services introduced to the global market for the first time. Elaborating on two core cloud-native innovations, Fang introduced the Cloud Container Engine (CCE) Turbo as a new cloud-contained engine that yields increased resource utilization, reduced access latency by up to 40%, and scale out 3,000 pods per minute to cope with traffic surges.

He also featured the Ubiquitous Cloud-Native Service (UCS), a distributed cloud-native service that allows enterprises to connect thousands of Kubernetes clusters to deliver a consistent experience through multi-cloud, cross-region applications.

Introductions were made to new services based on four pipelines: ModelArts to help AI developers effectively achieve one-stop data-tagging/model training; DataArts for an efficient and intelligent data governance pipeline; DevCloud for a secure and productive software development pipeline; and MetaStudio to provide better media experience. Other upcoming offerings include MacroVerse aPaaS such as KooMessage, KooSearch and KooGallery.

Fang also took the opportunity to release the Cloud-Native 2.0 Architecture White Paper to help enterprises embark on digital transformation.

Articulating the impact of Huawei Cloud’s innovations on industries, Hu cited AI adoption in the Pangu Drug Molecule Model to yield faster drug discovery for the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University – successfully reducing R&D costs by 70% and development to approval time from a decade to a month for the world’s first broad-spectrum antimicrobial drug.

As one global network, Huawei Cloud has launched more than 240 cloud services, aggregating more than 38,000 partners and 3 million developers to release more than 7,400 applications in the cloud market.

With cloud-native technologies becoming a key engine to unleash digital productivity, Huawei Cloud demonstrates a commitment to harness cloud-native, Everything as a Service to spur economies.

References:

https://www.telecomreviewasia.com/index.php/news/featured-articles/2946-cloud-native-everything-as-a-service-takes-centerstage-at-huawei-connect-2022

https://www.prnewswire.com/in/news-releases/huawei-cloud-summit-in-bangkok-driving-the-leapfrog-growth-of-the-digital-economy-with-cloud-native-301627276.html

 

 

China Unicom to deploy Huawei’s 64T64R MetaAAU product-an upgrade of Huawei MetaAAU

China Unicom Beijing will commercial Huawei’s 64T64R MetaAAU product in a pilot urban residential area in Tongzhou District. China Unicom says the rollout of 64T64R MetaAAU resulted in a significant increase in user-perceived rates. Even at a building near the cell edge, the downlink user-perceived rate was able to reach 100 Mbps on every floor, China Unicom added.

64T64R MetaAAU is an upgrade of the Huawei MetaAAU series that adopts extremely large antenna array (ELAA) technology. The number of channels has grown from 32T32R to 64T64R, meaning this new green 5G base station Massive MIMO product can deliver upgrade coverage and capacity.

China Unicom Beijing and Huawei have created a commercial MetaAAU network as part of a project that has deployed MetaAAUs at over 1,000 rural network sites on the outskirts of Beijing. According to China Unicom, this new network has already seen a 38 percent increase in traffic per site by improving 5G services in rural areas.

The MetaAAUs used by this network are also designed to reduce site energy consumption by 5 percent under the same network load compared with previous-generation AAUs. MetaAAUs are the third-generation of 5G AAU developed by Huawei. They use the company’s new extreme-large antenna array (ELAA) architecture to double the scale of arrays compared with the previous-generation AAU. According to Huawei, this innovation results in extended coverage because channel beams are narrower and energy is more focused.

China Unicom Beijing has leveraged these advancements to hit its 2022 5G construction targets for small towns and rural areas which face unique challenges when it comes to inter-site distance, gigabit user experience, and green networking. China Unicom Beijing deployed these MetaAAUs at over 1,000 sites in July in towns and rural areas including the Shunyi, Huairou, and Pinggu districts of Beijing.

The company claims the MetaAAUs have delivered a 40 percent increase in coverage area, increased uplink and downlink user-perceived rates by 10 percent, and lowered network energy consumption by 5 percent over previous-generation AAUs. Since their deployment, user traffic has increased by 38 percent in their coverage areas and the operator’s user base has increased by 37 percent.

References:

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/china-unicom-huawei-to-commercialize-64t64r-metaaau-for-5g-subscribers-in-residential-areas–1434471

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/china-unicom-deploys-1000-metaaaus-with-huawei–1430843

Huawei to expand consumer products to include smartphones, PCs and other consumer-oriented devices

Huawei Technologies said on Wednesday it will step up efforts to expand its presence in the commercial hardware market in its latest effort to pursue new growth opportunities beyond smartphones amid foreign government restrictions.  Richard Yu Chengdong, a member of Huawei‘s executive board, said: “The company has rebranded its consumer business group that includes smartphones, PCs and other consumer-oriented businesses, into a device business group, to showcase its determination to tap into enterprise-oriented businesses such as PCs used in offices, desktops and large displays for industry customers.”

Huawei‘s new group will focus on providing office hardware and software solutions for key sectors including education, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, finance and energy, Huawei said.  Huawei‘s consumer business group used to contribute the most to the overall revenue of the company. But due to tough US government restrictions on Huawei‘s access to crucial technologies including semiconductors, the company’s smartphone sales plunged.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, Huawei‘s consumer business group revenue dropped nearly 50 percent to 243.4 billion yuan ($38 billion).

According to market research company Counterpoint, the company’s global smartphone market share fell below 4 percent since the first quarter of 2021, compared with its peak of 20 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

Amid such a context, Huawei has been working hard to find new growth engines to offset its declining smartphone business.

At an online product launch on Wednesday, Huawei unveiled its latest commercial tablets, smart wearables and displays equipped with its self-developed HarmonyOS. Huawei also provides a customized full-scenario payment solution called Huawei Payment for government clients and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, an industry association, said sales channels constitute the biggest difference between consumer-oriented and enterprise-oriented businesses. The former relies on retail stores, while the latter depends on close partnerships with customers from industries.

Exhibition area of Huawei during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, on March 1, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

Huawei‘s advantages in product performance, quality as well as research and development can still give it an edge in enterprise-oriented business, Xiang said, adding that Huawei has accumulated experience in targeting industrial customers in its 5G base station business.  Huawei is also continuing its drive for development of the OpenEuler operating system as part of its broader push to solve China’s lack of homegrown operating systems for fundamental digital technologies.

OpenEuler is designed for enterprise customers and can be used in devices such as servers and cloud computing. Last year, Huawei donated its Euler operating system to the OpenAtom Foundation, a major open source foundation in China, to become an open-source OS.

Jiang Dayong, director of the OpenEuler Community, said the OpenEuler open source community has attracted more than 8,000 developers and 330 partners such as chip makers, software companies and hardware makers. At present, the cumulative installed capacity of OpenEuler stands at more than 1.3 million in industries such as finance, transportation and telecom, which means the system is ready for faster growth.  Jiang said he expects about 2 million new installations of OpenEuler in 2022.

 

Computer products at a Huawei store in Foshan, Guangdong province, on April 4, 2022. Photo: VCG

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References:

https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202204/21/WS6260b1a9a310fd2b29e58410.html#:~:text=Huawei%20Technologies%20Co%20said%20on,smartphones

https://www.caixinglobal.com/2022-04-21/huawei-targets-corporate-clients-as-consumer-business-suffers-101874112.html  (Paywall)

Huawei: XR industry to realize exponential growth with 5G; ‘Spatial Internet’ will be the next big thing

The world of Extended Reality or XR, which covers Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality, offers infinite potential, said Dr. Philip Song, Chief Marketing Officer, Huawei Carrier, during his keynote speech  “5G + XR: Bringing Imagination into Reality,” at the 2022 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

According to a survey, the XR industry will contribute US$1.5 trillion to the global GDP by 2030. In 2021, more than 10 million units of Quest 2 were shipped. These 10 million users will be the critical mass for the XR ecosystem to take off.  Dr. Song added that following the mobile internet, ‘Spatial Internet’ [1.] will be the next big thing.

Note 1.  While there’s no clear definition, the Spatial Web or Spatial Internet refers to a computing atmosphere that exists in a 3D space. It is a pairing of real and virtual realities, enabled via billions of connected devices, and accessed through the interface of Virtual and Augmented Reality.

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Song introduced how Huawei held VR-enabled annual meetings and uses AR to assist with 5G base station delivery. Huawei and third-party data shows that the XR market will generate US$1.5 trillion in GDP by 2030, which is roughly equivalent to the current 5G market.

Comparing the XR industry’s progress to how the smartphone industry developed, Song said many vendors are now offering XR devices for under US$300, making the technology more affordable while still offering next-gen user experiences. XR development tools are being increasingly adopted. The new OPEN XR standard is now supported by almost every major hardware, platform, and engine company, making multi-platform deployment possible without multiple rounds of development.

What is more noteworthy is that a number of global XR pioneer carriers have made commercial breakthroughs in recent years. Carriers in countries like South KoreaThailand, and China have led the deployment of VR/AR services and gained significant returns through three steps: selecting industries, setting business models, and developing capabilities. A carrier said, “If XR was launched three months later, it might take three years to catch up.”

XR Industry to Grow Rapidly:

The world is on the cusp of witnessing the fast-paced growth of the XR industry, he said.  VR headset shipments are accelerating. In 2021, more than 10 million units of Oculus Quest 2, a VR headset, were shipped. Ten million users will be the critical mass for the XR ecosystem to take off. The growth of VR devices will mirror that of smartphones and mobile devices. From 1983 to 1994, it took 11 years to sell the first 10 million cellphones. However, the cellphone shipment touched 20 million in 1995, and 100 million were sold over the next three years. According to market forecast, VR headset shipment will reach 100 million units by 2025.

Also, the price of VR devices continues to drop, making them affordable for more people. Lastly, continuous innovation in XR technologies has made it possible to deliver a generational leap in user experience.

Huawei’s Philip Song delivering a keynote speech at 2022 MWC.  Source: Huawei
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Content is championing XR growth:
Large scale development of games and gaming platforms is also acting as a catalyst to boost the XR industry. “Besides device availability, the most important thing is content. Large sales of hardware and profitable software are the pre-condition for a healthy industry,” shared Dr Song. A case in point is SteamVR, a famous VR gaming platform that took 41 months to connect one million devices per month. But just 11 months later, the number increased to three million. Similarly, the game Beat Saber has seen four million copies sold. This one game generated more than 180 million dollars in revenue.
Moreover, XR developer tools are also more common with the continuous innovation of technologies. “In the past, it required more than 200 lines of code to create an AR special effect. But now, only 10 lines of code are needed with the Huawei AR engine. Developers do not need specialized AR development skills. AR model development is as simple as writing PPT,” he stated.
Some of the success stories of content operation include LG U+ providing AR/VR content to AIS, enabling AIS to quickly acquire content to develop XR users; China Mobile Migu building a VR content aggregation platform to bring in premium content; and Tiktok crowdsourcing content from users. These three cases map to a three-step content strategy: namely content introduction, content aggregation, and content crowdsourcing.
How can telecom operators grab a pie of the XR market?   
It will be necessary to identify the right industries and defining the right business models. XR markets should be reviewed first. When identifying a sector, factors such as application potential, regional industry concentration, technical feasibility, and commercial feasibility should be considered. Telecom players also need to define the right business model to convert feasibility into financial success.
In the consumer space, operators can start off by offering XR services as part of the 5G package to get users on board and gain confidence. They can then move on to premium content and scenario-based experience monetization.  Moreover, operators will have to continuously work towards improving XR experience and reducing productions costs to gain a competitive edge.
Dr. Song shared insights into the accelerated growth of the XR industry. He said that the traffic demand of popular XR content doubles every 18 to 24 months. Two years ago, 4K 30-frame full-view XR content was the mainstream, but 8K 60-frame FOV XR content is now becoming more popular. And in the next two to four years, 12K or even 24K XR content with a higher frame rate will be the more common. And this premium content will consume network bandwidth and cloud resources at an exponential pace, he emphasized.
Cloud service capabilities should also double every 18-24 months, allowing premium XR content production costs to fall exponentially. “Huawei Cloud XR Service is one prime example of the same. Through continuous innovation, Huawei is building the strongest foundation for XR development,” he said.

Huawei launched its next-generation, innovative AR-HUD, expanding XR applications. In terms of XR data transmission, Huawei presented innovative solutions such as 5G Massive MIMO and FTTR. The company has publicly committed to supporting a “Gigaverse” that provides ubiquitous gigabit access to support XR experiences anytime, anywhere. Huawei also launched its “Cloud-network Express” solution to help XR industry partners quickly access multiple clouds and use cloud-based development and rendering capabilities.

As he closed out his presentation, Song called on industry partners to work together in line with the “new Moore’s Law” and seize this great development opportunity for the XR industry.   “I do believe that with industry-wide collaboration, 5G+XR will have a bright future. The best way to predict the future is to create it. The time to act is now,” concluded Dr. Song.

References:

ZTE using TSMC’s 7-nm process to build custom chips for its 5G base stations

ZTE is on a roll! China’s #2 telecom firm said in its annual report that it gained market share in China last year for servers, core networks and storage solutions — the three areas where Huawei is a key player.   Revenues grew at a double-digit percentage rate last year, rising inside and outside China and across all three business units – carrier (networks), enterprise (business) and consumer (gadgets).

With TSMC’s business booming, Nikkei Asia believes that ZTE is quietly building a technological edge in the base station market for fifth-generation (5G) cellular connectivity. These base stations are used by telecommunications carriers to meet consumer demands, and the publication believes that ZTE has designed its equipment to be based on the 7-nanometer (nm) process node.

The company [ZTE] has been utilizing some of TSMC’s most advanced chip production technology — the so-called 7-nm tech — to build processors for its 5G base stations. Sources said it also uses the Taiwanese chipmaker’s advanced chip packaging technology, which uses stacking technology to arrange chips with different functions into one package.

Nikkei Asia also said that Huawei’s inability to conduct business with TSMC due to American sanctions has left the field wide open for ZTE. The company is targeting double-digit growth for its server and base station segment, and it is also interested in TSMC’s leading-edge chip node, which is the company’s 5nm process.

However, while ZTE might not be sanctioned to procure the latest chip technologies from TSMC, the company still can not sell its 5G base stations to several Western companies. This has resulted in it focusing its efforts mostly on China, as the U.S. will rely on small cell 5G Open RAN platform developed by Qualcomm Incorporated on the 4nm node.

Source: Jordi Boixareu/Alamy Live News

“ZTE has turned quite aggressive in pursuing its chip capability in the past few years. Although the volume is still small, it is showing impressive progress,” said one unnamed source.

TSMC, as well as ZTE, seems to be on a very solid growth track. On the back of another robust set of quarterly financials Q4 FY21 and a strong balance sheet, the world’s #1 chip making firm announced a massive capex budget hike to increase manufacturing capacity in “advanced process technologies,” including 2nm, 3nm, 5nm and 7nm.

TSMC also sells products built on the 4nm, which is a design extension of the company’s 5nm process families. Different process technologies marketed under the 4nm branding are expected to commence production from the second half of this year to the first half of 2023.

References:

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/China-tech/China-s-ZTE-boosts-chip-capabilities-amid-Huawei-s-crackdown-woes

https://wccftech.com/tsmc-reveals-36-revenue-growth-as-chinas-zte-reportedly-using-7nm-for-5g/

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/zte-has-designs-on-chips-with-tsmc/d/d-id/775180?

China to accelerate 5G roll-outs while FCC faces “rip and replace” funding shortfall

China Daily reports that local governments in China are doubling down on plans to accelerate 5G rollouts in 2022. More than 20 provincial and municipal governments in China have emphasized efforts to accelerate construction of “new infrastructure” like 5G and data centers in their work plans for this year.

Shanghai plans to build more than 25,000 5G base stations this year (do you really believe that?) to push forward the in-depth coverage of the superfast wireless network. The city also has ambitions to build super large computing power platforms to meet growing demand.

Zhao Zhiguo, spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s top industry regulator, said earlier:

“2022 is a critical year for the large-scale development of 5G applications. We will continue to improve 5G network coverage and accelerate the in-depth integration of 5G and vertical industries.”

One of the priorities is to moderately speed up the coverage of 5G in counties and rural towns in China, Zhao said.

Ten ministries, including the Cyberspace Administration of China, recently unveiled a digital rural development action plan for the period from 2022 to 2025, which called for an intensified push to promote digital infrastructure upgrades in rural areas.

Telecom operators are also moving fast. China Mobile, the nation’s largest telecom carrier, said it aims to achieve continuous 5G coverage in rural towns across the country by the end of this year.

Telecom carriers’ 5G plans seek to harness the power of more than 1.4 million 5G base stations that were deployed in China by the end of last year (but can you really trust that China government reported number?). 5G signals are already available in urban areas of all of China’s prefecture-level cities, more than 98% of county-level towns and 80 percent of rural towns, MIIT data showed.

5G Cell Tower in China.  Image courtesy of China Daily

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In the U.S., it’s a different story. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found a shortfall in funding for its plan to replace Chinese telecom equipment. Inadequate finance is likely to pose connectivity challenges to people in remote areas in the US, experts said.

According to a report on MobileWorld Live, a telecom industry website, the FCC said local telecom operators’ requests for funding to replace network equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE totaled $5.6 billion, almost three times the $1.9 billion allocated by the US federal government. Network operators serving less than 10 million customers which used government subsidies to buy Huawei or ZTE equipment before 30 June 2020 were eligible to apply for funding to cover costs associated with removing, replacing and disposing of the Chinese network equipment.

In a statement released last week, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that 181 carriers submitted initial reimbursement application requests totaling approximately $5.6 billion.  Carriers are required to remove and replace existing network gear from Huawei and ZTE after the vendors were deemed national security risks. Congress in late 2020 set aside around $1.9 billion to fund and carry out the effort under the Secured and Trusted Communications Act 2019.

“Last year Congress created a first-of-its kind program for the FCC to reimburse service providers for their efforts to increase the security of our nations communications networks,” Rosenworcel said. “We’ve received over 181 applications from carriers who have developed plans to remove and replace equipment in their networks that pose a national security threat,” she added.

The FCC banned U.S. telecom carriers from buying Huawei and ZTE’s equipment via federal subsidies, citing what it alleged were national security concerns. The two Chinese tech companies have repeatedly denied the accusations, which they said are groundless.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association in China, said Huawei and ZTE’s products are currently used by US telecom carriers to offer network and broadband services in some of the most remote regions in the US. Xiang said that the U.S. order to replace Huawei/ZTE wireless network equipment in rural areas will result in the lack of quality telecom services.

Steve Berry, president and CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association, a trade group for about 100 wireless providers in the US, issued a statement calling on the U.S. government to ensure the FCC program is fully funded so that connectivity is maintained during the operators’ transition to new wireless telecom equipment for their cellular networks.

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Table 1: All the companies asking for FCC “rip and replace” funding

Company Applicant Wireless Wireline Total Vendor
Viaero Wireless NE Colorado Cellular Inc X $1,194,000,000 Ericsson
Union Wireless Union Telephone Company X $688,000,000 Nokia
ATN International Commnet Wireless, X $418,768,726
Gogo Gogo Business Aviation LLC X $332,770,202
NTCH PTA-FLA, Inc. $273,971,426
Lumen Level 3 Communications, LLC X $269,999,994
Stealth Communications X $199,066,226
SI Wireless, LLC X $181,023,489
United Wireless Communications, Inc. X $173,471,477
Hotwire Communications, Ltd. X $141,299,003
Latam Telecommunications, L.L.C. $138,060,092
NEMONT TELEPHONE COOPERATIVE INC X $125,551,024
NTUA Wireless, LLC X $124,447,019
Windstream Communications LLC X $118,271,652
Rise Broadband Skybeam, LLC X $106,159,884
Pine Telephone Company X $87,095,419
Mediacom Communications Corporation X $86,171,976
Flat Wireless, LLC X $76,284,671
Pine Belt Cellular, Inc. X $74,856,191
James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company X $53,000,000
AST Telecom, LLC d/b/a Bluesky X $49,959,592
Country Wireless LLC X $47,508,982
Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC X $47,172,086
Board of Trustees, Northern Michigan University X $45,796,636
Hargray Communications Group, Inc. X $42,785,933
NfinityLink Communications, Inc. $37,535,905
Plateau Telecommunications, Incorporated X $30,000,000
Texas 10, LLC $29,088,795
Mark Twain Communications Company X $29,000,000
Panhandle Telecommunication Systems Inc $28,925,552
TelAlaska Cellular, Inc. X $26,567,517
Central Louisiana Cellular, LLC X $26,264,528
TRANSTELCO INC. X $25,573,213
Beamspeed, L.L.C. X $19,596,157
Triangle Telephone Cooperative Association, Inc. X $18,336,507 Mavenir
Eastern Oregon Telecom, LLC X $18,122,185
Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Inc. X $16,857,851
Vitelcom Cellular, Inc. d/b/a Viya Wireless X $15,716,011
Santel Communications Cooperative, Inc. X $14,604,337
MHG Telco LLC X $14,456,482
WorldCell Soutions, LLC X $12,673,559
LIGTEL COMMUNICATIONS INC. X $12,000,000
Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC X $11,344,724
Copper Valley Wireless, LLC X $11,151,417
Premier Holdings LLC $9,759,680
Eltopia Communications, LLC X X $7,741,951
Metro Fibernet, LLC X $7,567,518
Bestel (USA), Inc. $6,887,500
PocketiNet Communications Inc. $6,741,452
Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD X $5,943,974
Windy City Cellular X $5,562,067
Bristol Bay Cellular Partnership X $5,269,183
Kings County Office of Education $5,221,191
Interoute US LLC $4,867,140
Pasadena ISD $4,387,311
Velocity Communications, Inc. X $4,158,729
Advantage Cellular Systems, Inc. X $3,479,000
New Wave Net Corp $3,365,772
FirstLight Fiber, Inc. $3,306,644
Gigsky, Inc. X $3,128,678
Triangle Communication Systems Inc $2,779,371
FIF Utah LLC X $2,662,538
Gallatin Wireless Internet, LLC X $2,399,162
Moore Public Schools $2,023,243
HUFFMAN ISD $1,920,588
Crowley ISD $1,720,496
Castleberry Independent School District X $1,672,527
One Ring Networks, Inc. $1,649,281
University of San Francisco $1,570,437
Leaco Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. $1,511,617
Zito West Holding, LLC X $1,453,469
Southern Ohio Communication Services Inc $1,312,844
Xtreme Enterprises LLC X $1,097,283
Virginia Everywhere, LLC X $562,001
South Canaan Telephone Company $542,139
Palmer ISD $520,146
Waxahachie ISD X $457,396
Hunter Communications & Technologies LLC $432,348
Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency $413,760
COMMSELL $302,400
VTel Wireless, Inc. X $283,618
Trinity Basin Preparatory, Inc. $242,510
NTInet, inc $198,340
LakeNet LLC X $193,277
IdeaTek Telcom, LLC X $181,899
Millennium Telcom, L.L.C., dba OneSource Communications $165,195
Inland Cellular LLC X $117,183
Roome Telecommunications Inc $92,144
Milford Independent School District $40,399
Angeles Enterprises X $33,368
Crystal Broadband Networks X $28,704
Natural G.C. Inc. $27,313
Webformix Internet Company X $22,400
Northern Cambria School District $14,400
Deer Creek Independent School District $-
$5,609,338,024
This FCC data was initially compiled by vendor Mavenir and then expanded, checked and edited by Light Reading staff.

“We’ve received over 181 applications from carriers who have developed plans to remove and replace equipment in their networks that pose a national security threat. While we have more work to do to review these applications, I look forward to working with Congress to ensure that there is enough funding available for this program to advance Congress’s security goals and ensure that the US will continue to lead the way on 5G security,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.

References:

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202202/09/WS620303dfa310cdd39bc85734.html

Mobile Experts: Ericsson #1 in RAN market; Huawei falls to #3

According to a new report from analyst firm Mobile Experts, Ericsson leapt into the #1 position in the RAN market for 2021. Ericsson (see Table 1. at bottom of this article), which achieved a 26.9% share of a market that grew by about 3% in value to be worth in the region of $45 billion last year.

Sanctions hit Huawei very hard as the Chinese tech giant dropped to third place in the RAN market in terms of the value of sales with a 20.4% market share.  Huawei had a shortfall of roughly $4B last year due to the company’s inability to produce high-capacity TDD base stations.   That was because of U.S. Government sanctions on the critical components needed.  As a result, Huawei achieved much lower dollar value than their western competitors.

Nokia (21.9% market share) placed third while ZTE achieved fourth place (14.5%) ahead of Samsung (8% market share).

 

“Our approach to forecasting is deeply analytical, using data from more than 100 sources, rather than simply the inputs of five OEMs.  Our approach works. This analyst team has been creating some of the most accurate, detailed forecasting on the market for over a decade,” commented Chief Analyst of Mobile Experts, Joe Madden. “We have developed relationships with suppliers, operators, and vendors that give us data for a three-pronged approach to triangulation on mobile infrastructure revenue.”

Mobile Experts’ models show the RAN market growing at a CAGR (Cumulative Annualized Growth Rate) of 3%, with -1% growth in macro base stations and 25%-35% growth in millimeter wave and software segments. The analyst firm, known for their unmatched accuracy, leverage over a decade of ear-to-ground experience in this market to present this detailed market forecast that presents last year’s findings concisely and completely as well as presenting what’s next for the RAN market and its players.

“Overall, the RAN market is looking up. After 30 years of boom-and-bust cycles, the market is currently reaching a peak with 5G deployment in its active mode this year.  In coming years, we see new revenue coming in from private enterprises to offset the natural drop in CSP sales; specifically, the private LTE/5G market will grow by 19%, accounting for more than $4 billion in 2026. As a result, the total RAN market will remain near its 5G peak for a few years, with the possibility for growth in the longer term,” commented Chief Analyst Joe Madden.

Total Year Review for 2021 – Global RAN Revenue:

 

This pre-earnings report offers a comprehensive overview of the RAN market with Mobile Experts’ signature accuracy and detailed breakdowns.  This quarter’s report includes revenue estimates for the top 25 vendors in the RAN market for 2021.    This is the first of a series of quarterly updates, and it is available today for instant download with purchase at www.mobile-experts.net.

For more about this research and buy the report, click here. 

About Mobile Experts Inc.:

Mobile Experts provides insightful market analysis for the mobile infrastructure and mobile handset markets.  Our analysts are true Experts, who remain focused on topics where each analyst has 25 years of experience or more. Research topics center on technology introduction for radio frequency (RF) and communications innovation.  Recent publications include: RAN Revenue, Cellular V2X, Fixed Mobile Convergence,  Edge Computing, In-Building Wireless,  CIoT, URLLC, Macro Base Station Transceivers, Small Cells, VRAN, and Private LTE.

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Table 1: Ericsson’s headline figures (Swedish Krona-SEK billions)

2021 2020 Change
Net sales 232.3 232.4 0%
Gross income 100.7 93.7 7%
Gross margin 43.4% 40.3%
Research and development expenses -42.1 -39.7
Selling and administrative expenses -27.0 -26.7
Impairment losses on trade receivables 0.0 0.1 -134%
Other operating income and expenses 0.4 0.7 -45%
Share in earnings of JV and associated companies -0.3 -0.3
EBIT 31.8 27.8 14%
– of which networks 37.3 30.9 21%
– of which digital services -3.6 -2.2
– of which managed services 1.5 1.6 -6%
– of which emerging business and other -3.4 -2.4
EBIT margin 13.7% 12.0%
Financial income and expenses, net -2.5 -0.6
Income tax -6.3 -9.6 30%
Net income -0.5 -1.3
Source: Ericsson

“5G smart hospital” launched in Thailand; Joint Innovation Lab to incubate 5G applications

The Office of The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) in Thailand, Siriraj Hospital, and Huawei jointly launched the “Siriraj World Class 5G Smart Hospital” on Sunday, December 10th. This is the first and largest 5G smart hospital project in the ASEAN region. It will deliver a more efficient and convenient experience to patients by introducing technologies such as 5G, cloud, and artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, Siriraj Hospital and Huawei will establish a Joint Innovation Lab to incubate over 30 innovative 5G applications that will be promoted nationwide from 2022.

General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister, addressed the national policy on 5G and digital economy. “Thailand understands the importance of technology, and today is an important first step in the utilization of digital technologies and 5G in the medical field. We are thankful for the long-lasting friendship and collaboration between Thailand and China. We admire Siriraj Hospital and Mahidol University, and would like to thank Huawei, NBTC, and all other partners. We hope the project will act as a blueprint for all smart hospitals in Thailand going forward.”

Han Zhiqiang, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Thailand, emphasized that China will leverage technology to help Thailand fight the pandemic. “China and Thailand’s 5G cooperation has become a model in the region, helping Thailand become the first country in Southeast Asia to launch 5G commercial use. China will continue to support Huawei and other Chinese companies in advancing Smart Hospitals and bringing better lives for Thai and Chinese people.”

Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, MD, Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital Mahidol University, and Colonel Natee Sukonrat, Ph.D., Vice-Chairman of NBTC emphasized that with the “smart hospitals” model, people in remote areas will have better opportunities to access advanced health care services.

Abel Deng, CEO of Huawei Thailand, said, “Huawei has collaborated with Siriraj Hospital to transform it into a world class 5G Smart Hospital, and introduced the Innovation Lab at Srisavarindira Building as part of its 5G infrastructure project for Siriraj Hospital last year. This signifies a model for upgrading Thailand’s public health industry in the future and contributes to Siriraj’s transition to becoming a smart hospital, in line with Huawei’s mission to Grow in Thailand, Contribute to Thailand.”

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha touring the Siriraj hospital. Image courtesy of Huawei Technologies

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This cross-sector collaboration will enhance and upgrade the services of Siriraj Hospital to progress it to become a smart medical center using digital technologies based on 5G, AI, big data infrastructure, and cloud edge processing for the purpose of patient tracking, disease diagnosis by AI on cloud, data storage and analysis, and allocation of resources.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Siriraj Hospital and Huawei have established long-term cooperation in 5G technology development and application. In June 2020, Siriraj Hospital cooperated with Huawei Thailand to launch 5G self-driving vehicles for contactless delivery of medical supplies.

Siriraj Hospital and Huawei signed a five-year MoU in December 2020 to accelerate the use of 5G and cloud technologies. In June, 5G unmanned vehicles were introduced for contactless medical supplies delivery. Last year, Siriraj received the CommunicAsia “Most Innovative 5G Trial in Asia Pacific Region” award.

 

References:

https://www.huawei.com/us/news/2021/12/smart-hospital-thailand-5g-siriraj

https://www.itnews.asia/news/thailand-launches-first-5g-smart-hospital-in-asean-574247#

Thailand partners with Huawei to launch ASEAN’s first 5G smart hospital

Huawei Execs: ICT Industry Initiatives for 5G and Green 5G Networks for a Low-Carbon Future

Huawei’s rotating chairman Ken Hu kicked off the 12th annual Global Mobile Broadband Forum (MBBF) in Dubai with a call for the ICT industry to work together on the next stage of 5G development.  He outlined the specific areas where the industry needs to improve. The MBBF is hosted by Huawei, together with its industry partners in the GSMA and the SAMENA Telecommunications Council. This forum gathers mobile network operators, vertical industry leaders, and ecosystem partners from around the world to discuss how to maximize the potential of 5G and push the mobile industry forward..

Speaking on the current state of 5G development and new opportunities moving forward, Hu noted, “In just five years of commercial deployment, 5G has provided a considerable upgrade in mobile experience for consumers, and it’s already starting to empower different industries around the globe. Progress was much faster than we expected, especially in terms of the subscriber base, network coverage, and the sheer number of 5G terminals on the market.”

Huawei’s Ken Hu speaking in MBBF 2021
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Hu pointed out that there are currently 176 commercial 5G networks around the globe (almost all of which are 5G NSA), serving more than 500 million subscribers. In the consumer space, average 5G download speeds are roughly 10 times greater than 4G, which has fueled broader adoption of applications like VR and 360º broadcasting. In the enterprise space, there are already 10,000 projects exploring B2B applications of 5G (5GtoB) around the world. 5G applications in industries like manufacturing, mining, and ports have already passed trial and are being replicated at scale.  He said that there are three areas of opportunity that will drive the next stage of 5G’s growth, which are XR services, the B2B market, and low-carbon development.
While 5G progress was said to be steady (we strongly disagree), Hu noted that there are still some areas for improvement. “Right now more than half of these 10,000 5G-to-Business projects are in China. We have a huge number of use cases already, but we need to build more sustainable business cases.”Hu then highlighted some of broader changes that will have a long-term impact on the ICT industry, including accelerated digital transformation caused by the pandemic, adoption of cloud and AI in organizations, and the importance of climate change. “These trends provide many opportunities for our industry. But they also create some challenges. There are a few things we can do to get ready.”The ICT industry needs to get networks, devices, and content ready for explosive growth in Extended Reality (XR). To support a smooth cloud-based XR experience, networks need to provide download speeds faster than 4.6 Gbit/s with latency no greater than 10 milliseconds. “Last year,” noted Hu, “we released our goals for 5.5G. And we believe they will help address this challenge.”

On the device side, he said lowering barriers to headset adoption is critical to reaching a tipping point in virtual reality, one of the key technologies in the Extended Reality repertoire of AR, VR, and MR. “To reach [this tipping point], we have to make improvements to both headsets and content. For headsets, people want devices that are smaller, lighter, and more affordable.” To enrich the content ecosystem, Hu called on the industry to provide cloud platforms and tools that simplify content development, which is notoriously difficult and expensive.

Telecom operators need to enhance their networks and develop new capabilities to get ready for 5GtoB [THAT WILL REQUIRE A UNIFIED 5G SA CORE NETWORK). A strong end-to-end network is key to 5G applications for industrial use, so operators need to keep making improvements to network capabilities such as uplink, positioning, and sensing. As industrial scenarios are much more complex than consumer scenarios, O&M can be a real challenge.  In response, Huawei is developing autonomous networks that bring intelligence to all aspects of 5G networks, from planning and construction to maintenance and optimization.

Digital transformation also requires different roles. In addition to providing connectivity, operators can also serve as cloud service providers, systems integrators, and more, and develop the requisite capabilities. To drive broader adoption of 5G in industries, developing industry-specific telecoms standards is also important. In China, operators, together with their industry partners, have begun working on standards for applying 5G in industries like coal mining, steel, and electric power, and this has helped to fuel greater adoption within these sectors.

“Beyond technology,” said Hu, “these are some of the intangible strengths that won’t provide immediate profit, but will be key to long-term competitiveness in the 5GtoB market.”

The ICT industry needs to get ready to go green. According to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, digital technology can help reduce global carbon emissions by at least 15%. “On one hand,” said Hu, “we have a great opportunity to help all industries cut emissions and improve power efficiency with digital technology. On the other hand, we have to recognize that our industry has a growing carbon footprint, and we have to take steps to improve that. Right now Huawei is using new materials and algorithms to lower the power consumption of our products, and we’re remodeling sites, and optimizing power management in our data centers for greater efficiency.”

“We have seen so many changes in the past two years – with the pandemic, technology, business and the economy. Moving forward, as the world begins to recover, we need to recognize the opportunities in front of us and get ready for them. Get our technology ready, get our businesses ready, and get our capabilities ready,” Hu concluded.

Also at the MBBF, Ryan Ding, Huawei’s Executive Director and President of the Carrier Business Group, gave a keynote speech entitled “Green 5G Networks for a Low-Carbon Future.” In his speech, Ding said that 5G has become a new engine for the growth of the mobile industry, and that to adapt to the rapid growth of data traffic, the whole industry will need to keep pursuing innovations in power supply, distribution, use, and management, and build greener 5G networks with higher performance and lower energy consumption.

According to Ding, in countries where 5G is developing faster, operators who have invested heavily in 5G have seen remarkable returns, but he stressed that operators will realize business value only when the 5G user penetration rate is high enough. When the 5G user penetration rate reaches a threshold of 20%, Ding said, rapid development of 5G will follow. In countries such as China, South Korea, and Kuwait, operators were quick to provide continuous nationwide coverage, giving users a consistent experience. They also offer flexible service packages, which delivers a win-win result for both users and themselves. In addition, these operators are providing a gigabit experience—a tangible improvement over 4G—to accelerate user migration and network evolution. In these countries, the 5G user penetration rate has exceeded the 20% threshold, triggering a positive cycle of user growth, business returns, and network construction.

High-quality 5G networks will drive the rapid growth of mobile data traffic. It is estimated that the average data traffic per user per month will reach 600 GB by 2030. If the energy efficiency of existing networks remains unchanged, the energy consumption of wireless networks will increase by more than tenfold. Ding said that to cut the ICT industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 45%, operators will need to pursue ongoing innovations in power supply, distribution, use, and management to build greener 5G networks with higher performance and lower energy consumption.

Ding said Huawei has already deployed low-carbon site solutions in more than 100 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Greece, Pakistan, and Switzerland, helping operators reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 million tons. As a player in the communications industry, Huawei will continue to put green development at the center of everything it does and develop innovative solutions to build greener 5G networks with operators worldwide.

References:

https://www.telecomreview.com/index.php/articles/telecom-vendors/5449-huawei-s-ken-hu-sheds-light-on-the-next-stage-of-5g-development

https://www.huawei.com/en/news/2021/10/mbbf2021-huawei-ken-hu

https://www.huawei.com/en/news/2021/10/mbbf2021-huawei-ryan-ding-green-5g

 

FT: Huawei tries to re-invent Itself: Pivot from smart phones/telecom gear to cloud services, 6G, EV’s and HiSilicon

Condensed and edited Financial Times article by  in Taipei,  in London and  in Hong Kong

In the first half of this year, revenues at Huawei fell by almost 30 per cent compared with the same period last year, the largest ever drop.  As U.S. restrictions have begun to derail Huawei’s traditional business, the group is now in a scramble to try to reinvent itself. The company is turning away from the development and sale of telecommunications network gear and smartphones into areas less dependent on foreign chip supplies — such as cloud services and software for smart cars. Huawei is also doubling down on its own research and development in an effort to escape the stranglehold of American sanctions. It is investing heavily to be a leader in the emerging 6G technology so that other companies are dependent on its patents — rather than Huawei relying on technology imports from the US. “In the current climate, the best way to describe the atmosphere within Huawei and the way we go about things, is like a huge collection of start-ups,” says Henk Koopmans, the company’s head of research and development in the UK.

At stake is not just the fate of one of China’s most prominent and successful companies, but the broader technological competition between Beijing and Washington. Chinese officials are clear that Huawei has been a vital part of the country’s network of innovation.

“Many have viewed Huawei as the only possibility for China to make a breakthrough in semiconductors and telecoms,” says a local government official in Shenzhen, the technology industry hub in southern China that is Huawei’s home. “So Huawei must survive. It is a national mission.”

The company’s smartphone sales dropped by more than 47 per cent in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year. Last week, rotating chairman Eric Xu predicted that in the full year, the company will lose up to $40bn of its $50bn smartphone business, a slide that analysts estimate will drive the share of the consumer business in Huawei’s total revenues from 42 per cent earlier this year to just over 30 per cent. “Huawei’s component bottlenecks are now starting to bite,” says Ben Stanton, a smartphone analyst at market research group Canalys. “Stockpiles are running low, and its volume will almost certainly continue to fall each quarter.” Noting that Huawei’s smartphone arm has retreated to its Chinese home market, he adds that its strength in previous overseas strongholds such as Europe “has completely evaporated.”

In the network equipment business, the decline is happening more slowly, partly because product cycles are longer.  Although Huawei can no longer procure custom application-specific chips for its telecom products, it was assuring analysts that it had enough inventory to keep the infrastructure business running in the near term. In response to these losses, the first big push has been to strengthen Huawei’s software capabilities so that it is less dependent on producing hardware that it will struggle more and more to deliver without access to chip supplies.

The main software-driven business Huawei is rushing to build is cloud services. Some of the functions in a telecoms network traditionally performed by base stations can be transferred to software processes in the cloud with newer technology. Moreover, Huawei is rapidly developing new cloud services, which it offers to companies and government departments. Last week, the company announced plans to invest $100m in the next three years for small and medium-sized businesses to develop on Huawei Cloud.  The company’s cloud business grew by 116% in the first quarter of this year to take a 20% share of the Chinese market (second only to Alibaba Cloud).

According to Canalys, Huawei’s cloud business grew by 116 per cent in the first quarter of this year to take a 20 per cent share of a $6bn market in China, behind Alibaba Cloud but ahead of Tencent. “Huawei Cloud’s results have been boosted by internet customers and government projects, as well as key wins in the automotive sector. It is a growing part of Huawei’s overall business,” says Matthew Ball, chief analyst at Canalys. He says that while about 90 per cent of this business is in China, Huawei Cloud has a stronger presence in Latin America and Europe, Middle East and Africa compared with Alibaba Cloud and Tencent Cloud. There are limits on Huawei’s cloud business, however.

In July, Chinese media reported that the company was considering selling a part of its server business that runs on x86 central processing units after Intel’s export license for providing Huawei with that component expired. Servers are indispensable for cloud companies because they are where the hardware data is stored and much of the computing needed for cloud services is performed. Huawei and Intel both declined to comment, but industry experts say processor supplies are a headache for Huawei.

“Selling the server business is highly likely,” says Ben Sheen, semiconductor research director for network and communication infrastructure at research firm IDC. “The CPU is a central component, and if Intel cannot ship, Huawei is in big trouble.” As in the network gear business, providers of cloud services such as Amazon Web Services or Google try to boost performance by improving their software. If Huawei can achieve the same, it will be in less urgent need to get new processor supplies. “In smartphones, your revenue share goes down very quickly if you don’t have the latest chips. In cloud, you can keep running a decent business for much longer, and maybe even expand your revenue if you invest in software differentiation,” says Jue Wang, an associate partner in the technology practice of Bain, a consulting company.

Although companies such as Intel and AMD release new CPUs every year, the majority of cloud service providers’ servers run on processors two to five years old. The cloud companies increasingly generate new revenues by investing in new AI services and tools — even if their servers run on older chips.  “But eventually you will need new ones — you cannot offer cloud services without CPUs,” Wang says.

One of the fields where Huawei finds it relatively easy to pick up new business is helping to digitize industries that have been laggards in the adoption of information technology. It is offering telecom, IT and software tools to Chinese companies in sectors such as coal mining and port operations, enabling them to lower costs and enhance security. Driven by these operations, Huawei’s enterprise business revenues grew by 23 per cent last year and 18 per cent in the first half of this year.

“The enterprise business will likely continue to be a growth point for Huawei,” says Ethan Qi, an analyst at Counterpoint Research, who forecasts revenues in that segment to increase by up to 15 per cent a year in the next few years. Still, Huawei frets that this is not enough to offset the death blow the US sanctions are dealing to the smartphone business. The new industry verticals “may not even be able to compensate for those lost revenues in 10 years,” Huawei rotating Chairman Xu told reporters last week.

Huawei is making some striking bets on new areas. One of the biggest is in electric and autonomous vehicles (EV’s). Huawei made its first R&D foray into vehicles in 2014, but now the company is drastically cranking up commitment, with plans to form a 5,000-strong R&D team and investment of $1bn in the segment this year. The company says it will not build cars itself, but its engineers are clearly looking into everything short of that. “Initially, we just thought we would help the car connect, but after a while we realized that we can also help make it more intelligent,” says a Huawei official.

A vehicle released by Chinese automaker Beiqi at the Shanghai Auto Show this year featured an entire in-car electronics solution developed by Huawei. For this shift, the company is harnessing strengths built over years in its telecoms hardware business — executives say experience in designing base stations that can withstand extreme weather conditions comes in handy because temperature controls are a key requirement in electric vehicles. “They have refocused their teams in the research centers they run in Europe: In the past, those were 3G and 4G-facing, and now they are focused on [advanced driver-assistance systems],” says Jean-Christophe Eloy, chief executive and president of Yole, a French technology research and consultancy firm.

A large portion of the chips required in automotive electronics are manufactured with more mature processing technology, which does not need to be imported. “Much of that technology is available in China,” Eloy says. “Focusing on automotive therefore can also help them get away from their chip supply problem.”

But Huawei has its sights set far beyond keeping the business running in the near term: If anything, its ambition to be a tech pioneer has grown even stronger. Ren Zhengfei, founder and chief executive and Meng’s father, is letting some of Huawei’s researchers off the leash to focus on basic science and explore technology breakthroughs even without a clear understanding of its potential business applications.

“We will not demand you to put down your quill and join the troops,” Ren told R&D staff at a meeting in August. He added that the research team at HiSilicon, Huawei’s chip design unit, would be kept even though the US sanctions have robbed the Shenzhen-based operation of the chance to manufacture its advanced chips. “We allow HiSilicon to continue to scale the Himalayas,” Ren said. “The majority of us others will stay down here to grow potatoes, herd livestock and keep sending provisions to the climbers, because you can’t grow rice on Mount Everest,” Ren added.

Last year, Huawei invested Rmb141.9bn ($22bn) in R&D, almost 16 per cent of its revenue. The driver behind this focus on high-end research is the urge to become less dependent on foreign technology — while also laying the groundwork for growing intellectual property royalties.

In 5G, Huawei is one of the most significant owners of patents, forcing rival network gear makers such as Ericsson or Nokia to make certain payments to Huawei even if the Chinese company is excluded from 5G contracts in many western countries. Exhorting research staff to seek global technology leadership at the August meeting, Ren said: “We research 6G as a precaution, to seize the patent front, to make sure that when 6G one day really comes into use, we will not depend on others.” Elaborating on the potential uses of 6G for the first time, Ren said the technology might, beyond telecom’s traditional realm of connectivity, be used for sensing and detection — functions with potential for use from healthcare to surveillance. That expectation has grown out of the results of the “collection of start-ups” approach touted by Huawei’s UK research director Henk Koopmans. Ren’s encouragement for Huawei to pursue basic science is instilling what he hopes will be a start-up mentality in many of the company’s own R&D staff.

In addition, it is also tapping into a growing number of start-ups in which it invested in recent years. Engineers at the Centre for Integrated Photonics, a start-up based in Ipswich, eastern England, which Huawei acquired in 2012, recently developed a laser on a chip that can direct light into a fiber-optic cable — an alternative to established telecoms technology that sends pulses of infrared light through the cable. The researchers built the chip themselves, using Indium Phosphide technology instead of mainstream silicon-based semiconductors where US-owned tool technology gives Washington a stranglehold and which Huawei is struggling to obtain.

A circuit board on display at Huawei’s HQ.  Image Credit: Bloomberg

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Koopmans says one future use of the technology could be transferring data from sensors on the skin measuring blood oxygen content in remote healthcare services. “And all this photonics activity came from a really research background where we never knew if a product would ever see the light of day. But this is how we are doing things now — reutilize our R&D capabilities in a non-monolithic way.” Ren is not short on ambition for the group’s R&D operations, but acknowledges that they might not provide short-term results.

“Some theories and papers may not be put to use until one or two hundred years after they were first published,” he told R&D staff, reminding them that the significance of Gregor Mendel’s genetics discoveries was not understood until decades later. “Your paper may even have a fate like van Gogh’s paintings — nobody showed interest in them for more than 100 years, but now they are priceless.  Van Gogh starved.”

Additional reporting by Nian Liu in Beijing and Qianer Liu in Shenzhen

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References:

https://www.ft.com/content/9e98a0db-8d0a-4f78-90d3-25bfebcf3ac9

Huawei announces seven innovations in digital infrastructure for next decade

https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3150716/huawei-hires-former-bbc-executive-editor-chief-push-hire-more-foreign