Huawei Leads in 5G Installs
September 03, 2019
At the Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2019, Asia’s largest mobile technology exhibition that took place after 5G licenses were distributed by the Chinese government, Huawei Deputy Chairman Ken Hu stressed that China is the most advanced in the 5G field. Huawei has already concluded more than 50 5G-related contracts with communications service companies around the world, and has installed more than 150,000 base stations — a number that is expected to reach 500,000 by the year’s end. Other communications device manufacturers such as Ericsson of Sweden and Finland’s Nokia offer 5G products, but so far Huawei is the only supplier that develops and delivers a full product lineup from mobile terminals to base stations. Emerging economies and developing countries that lack their own 5G technology believe that the development of their domestic 5G infrastructure will proceed more rapidly if everything is left in the hands of Huawei. Many countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia and Brazil, are adopting Huawei products for their 5G networks. Huawei is taking steps intended to encourage such decisions, for example by announcing a $800 million investment in Brazil’s state of Sao Paulo to build a new plant to make 5G base station products. The U.S. market accounts for a tiny portion of Huawei’s worldwide sales. U.S. sales combined with those in Canada and Latin American countries comprise a mere 6.5 percent of Huawei’s global sales. It makes more than half of its sales in China, and countries in the rest of Asia, the Middle East and Africa are its key overseas customers. It has not made inroads into the base station market in the U.S. due to U.S. government intentions, and Huawei says it does not expect the latest U.S. sanctions to cause major damage to its business. Rather, the sanctions are prompting Huawei to focus even more on emerging markets.
Huawei is also taking a series of quick steps to secure key smartphone components and software to prepare for any future restrictions. It has developed a next-generation flagship processor named Kirin 985 and has built its own Android-compatible software for the smartphone operating system. While it plans to keep using the Android OS on its products for overseas markets, it’s preparing to build a system that will shield it from disruptions to product shipments to the domestic market and emerging economies in case its supply of Android operating systems is terminated. It also plans to turn its own smartphone OS into open-source software to foster collaboration with other rising telecom equipment makers. Many apps have been developed for Android and iOS and Huawei is creating incentives for developers to make apps that run on their new operating system.