VIDEO INTERVIEW: David Wang, president of wireless networks at Huawei, says security fears over the company’s equipment is only serving to strengthen the supplier’s efforts in proving doubters wrong.
“Due to Huawei’s very special position – we come from China – it always carries a suspicion that you are probably dangerous,” Wang told Mobile World Live in a recent video interview. “Because of that, we need to make an additional, special effort to really secure the network.”
This extra effort, says Wang, includes proactively working with standards bodies on how to improve security from a technological point of view.
“We have the confidence to overcome this problem [on security],” he says. “We also want to show we are capable of improving information security – not only for government use, but for personal information as well.”
There is still some convincing to do, however, particularly in the US. Last week, Sprint and SoftBank said they would not use kit from Huawei after they merge. Moreover, last October, the US House of Representatives published a report about the supposed threat that Huawei (and ZTE) poses to American security, citing opaque governance structures and links to China’s Communist Party. Both Huawei and ZTE immediately hit back at the report, claiming there was no hard evidence to back up the allegations.
Still, a colleague of Wang, Bob Cai – VP of marketing at the wireless networks division – told The Wall Street Journal last week that he doesn’t anticipate any US sales growth from its wireless network equipment this year. Security concerns have effectively shut out Huawei from the market, he said.
Huawei has encountered problems elsewhere, too. The supplier has been banned from providing equipment to Australia’s National Broadband Network over concerns about cyber-attacks originating in China.
Fuelling further anxiety in some quarters is Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s founder, who served as an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Wang nonetheless believes that Huawei should not be singled out.
“Network security is a common challenge for the whole industry, not just Huawei,” he says. “Due to networks becoming more open, there is more information flowing in the network. Information security is a common challenge for all the players.”
Despite political resistance in the US and in some other markets, Huawei’s wireless networks division is growing at a rapid clip. Sales at the division grew 10 per cent, to CNY49.9 billion ($8 billion), during 2012.
Of its overall international operations, across all of Huawei’s business units, the EMEA and the Asia Pacific regions – where operators are keen to take advantage of Huawei’s aggressive pricing – saw the strongest growth at 6.2 per cent and 7.2 per cent respectively. America grew by only 4.3 per cent.
By the end of 2012, Huawei said it had won 139 LTE and 80 EPC commercial contracts worldwide, of which 73 LTE and 59 EPC networks had been commercially launched.
“From an LTE solutions point of view, we are already the number one provider,” adds Wang. “We will have more market share on LTE compared with older technologies, such as GSM and UMTS.”