SHANGHAI — Huawei Technologies is a telecom equipment behemoth, competing with other global companies such as Cisco, Nokia, and Ericsson. But because Huawei is based in China, a country with different ideas about marketing and communications, basic facts about the company are less widely known. At this week’s Huawei Connect 2017 event in Shanghai, China, SDxCentral picked up the following tidbits that you may not know.
1. Huawei is a 30-year-old company. It was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army. Zhengfei still holds the titles of deputy chairman of the board and CEO, and his daughter Meng Wanzhou is the company’s CFO. There are three other CEOs at Huawei who rotate through the position.
2. Huawei is not banned from the United States, although this rumor seems to be widely believed in the U.S. Huawei is free to sell equipment in the U.S. It has a U.S. headquarters in Plano, Texas. However, the company does suffer public relations attacks from various politicians and lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and also by its competitors.
3. The company’s main headquarters is in Shenzhen, China, a city of between 11 million and 22 million people (depending on how the size is counted). Its cafeteria serves cuisine from all over the world because its 180,000 employees come from all over the world. Huawei trains engineers on its equipment, similarly to how Cisco trains engineers to become certified on its hardware. The average age of a Huawei employee is 29 years old.
4. The company is privately owned, but it prepares an annual report that is verified by the accounting firm KPMG. According to its last report, its sales revenue in 2016 was $75.1 billion, up 32 percent from the previous year. It has three business units. The carrier business accounts for 55.7 percent of the company’s revenues; the consumer business accounts for 34.5 percent; and the enterprise business accounts for 7.8 percent; with miscellaneous accounting for the balance. The company allows its employees to become part owners by buying company shares after they’ve worked there for four years.
5. Guo Ping, Huawei’s current acting CEO, said there’s no other company that brings the combination of connectivity, cloud, and devices. Huawei became a successful business initially by helping Chinese telcos to provide connectivity. It has since become involved in data centers and has been honing its cloud skills for the last few years. But what really distinguishes it from other telecom equipment providers is that it has a huge consumer business. In 2016 it shipped 139 million smartphones, a 29 percent increase over 2015. It competes with Apple and Samsung as one of the top three smartphone manufacturers in the world.
6. At its Huawei Connect 2017 conference, the company seemed a bit obsessed with facial recognition technology, which it provides as part of China’s Smart City initiative. Cameras capture images of people’s faces, and a giant database matches the images with identifying information. Ping told a story of the technology being used to find a missing child.
“The police received a report, and from video saw how the child was taken by a middle-aged woman,” said Ping. “They compared the fuzzy image from the image databases and used facial recognition to identify the woman. Police rescued the child within 15 hours. Without the public video network, all of this is not possible.”
7. On a happier note, Huawei is involved with China’s incredibly popular smart bike program. A Chinese start-up named Ofo provides bicycles for public rental via an application. The bikes come equipped with smart lock technology, so users don’t need to return the bikes to a rack. China Telecom built the narrow-band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network for the bikes. Huawei provides the NB-IoT chips for the smart locks. The company said it is manufacturing 1 million of these NB-IoT chips per month.
Featured Photo: View of the Shanghai skyline and Huangpu River from the Bund area.