Huawei used its annual pre-MWC event to refocus on its technology credentials, following a period when security woes have dominated the headlines.

Ryan Ding, president of the company’s Carrier Business Group (pictured), highlighted the company’s momentum in the commercial 5G market, with more than 40,000 base stations shipped and more than 30 5G contracts announced: 18 in Europe; nine in the Middle East; and three in Asia-Pacific. Several times South Korea was highlighted as a leading market, followed by the other regions.

While not addressing the security issues during the presentation, Ding took a bullish approach when quizzed by reporters. He noted the growing pace of 5G rollouts will improve market conditions in general, while the security issue will have “some impact on some countries, but there will not be an impact on 95 per cent of our markets”.

“What’s more, because of the security pressure from the industry, Huawei is ever more motivated to make improvements in performance, in the quality of our products, and also on our engineering,” he continued.

“Because of the security concern, we will make even bigger R&D investments this year to improve the competitiveness of our products.”

Song Peng, president of marketing and solutions sales for Huawei’s carrier unit, said the company’s total spend on R&D is “more than that of all the other telecom vendors” combined.

In 2018, Huawei spent more than €11 billion on research, with around 80,000 dedicated engineers. Every year, no less than 15 per cent of annual revenue is spent on R&D.

5G call
At the event, the company conducted what it described as “the world’s first multi-operator video call over live 5G networks”, with participation from Vodafone UK, 3 UK, BT and Ding.

Promising more announcements at MWC19 Barcelona, the company took the wraps off products including new 64T64R and 32T32R active antenna units, and a new rural site solution designed to offer improved abilities to serve remote markets.

Ding pointed to numerous benefits of its new 5G technologies around factors including power consumption and ease of installation that will make them easier for operators to deploy, which will be critical for operators as rollouts gain pace.