Politicising cybersecurity hurts everyone – Huawei CEO

As it is becoming increasingly difficult to discuss Huawei without mentioning security concerns, Rotating Chairman Ken Hu has joined the masses.

Speaking at the Huawei Analyst Summit, Hu confronted the issue head-on. “If an issue is politicised, the discussion will be moved away from facts and onto feelings,” said Hu.

“This kind of approach risks putting technology into a fragmented discussion. The fragmentation of technology will impede innovation and increase costs. This will be a burden for all of society. This will not just be a challenge for Huawei, but the entire of industry and society.”

While it might sound like a PR plug in the battle to combat US political aggression, Hu is talking sense. Political rhetoric has a way of whipping the masses into a frenzy and all of a sudden, you’ve forgotten the foundational point of the debate. Just look at the mess Brexit evolved into over the last five years.

For Hu, the message this week is relatively simple; look at the facts, look at the technology and look at the consequence of rash actions. This point has been accompanied by an admission Huawei needs to do better when it comes to security and software, but many will argue this should be an industry wide position.

This is the danger that Huawei currently faces. The carrier business group took a hit over 2018 with revenues declining by 1.3%. This is perhaps best attributed to the dilly-dalliance of European telcos in moving ahead with 5G, the prospect of spending money with a company which may potentially get banned is a dangerous one, but progress is being made. However, the climate of uncertainty is impacted the confidence of telcos to invest.

Huawei has suggested to it has now shipped more than 64,000 5G radios worldwide, therefore there must be customers somewhere. How many of these shipments have been made outside of China remains unknown, but revenue is revenue.

In fact, David Wang, Chief Strategy Marketing Officer at Huawei, suggests the carrier business group will enter back into double-digit growth over the course of 2019. But where is this revenue coming from?

First of all, 5G. Huawei might be banned from a few major markets around the world, but it isn’t banned from all of them. The UK is an example. Deployment might be slower in the UK than in Japan or the US, but progress is being made and Huawei continues to be an important partner to UK telcos.

Secondly, let’s not forget about 4G. With VoLTE still continuing to be an important factor of almost every network the telcos will have to continue to push geographical coverage. This network extension will continue to bolster Huawei bank accounts, such is the dominant position it has crafted in the 4G market.

The final area which Wang mentioned is 5G preparation. Some countries might still be in the trial stages of 5G, but they are certainly readying their networks. One facet of this is increasing the capacity of mobile backhaul, and fortunately for Huawei, it is one of the global leaders in the transmission game.

Security might be an on-going issue for Huawei, but it is by no-means killing the ambitions of the business. The risk is whether this discussion continues to swirl around the political domain, and it remains to be seen whether Huawei can shift the security question back to a technology basis. The recent decision from Germany suggests there is hope, and Huawei will be hoping more countries base decision making on risk mitigation principles, not political influence.

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