By Charles Yang, president of Huawei Middle East
As Huawei reflects on 2018, the challenges around us today and our goals for 2019, we see one thread linking the past, present and future: our unshakeable commitment to bringing digital to every home, person and organization, for a fully-connected and intelligent world. We are global, regional and local pioneers in transformative ICT, connecting the world on a historically unprecedented scale.
The greatest validation a business can receive is continued growth and success, and this we had in spades in 2018, with sales revenue expected to reach 108.5 billion U.S dollars, up around 21% YOY. Yet despite our successes, we have faced challenges in the past months, challenges which we are determined to meet head-on as we close the second decade of the millennium. As 5G gains momentum and the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes off, we turn to the year ahead and focus our energy towards laying the groundwork for a more robust business structure to ensure that all people and organizations benefit from new ICT, and reap the harvest of our extensive R&D investments.
2018: Building on past success
Huawei is and always will be a customer-centric organization, and as such nothing gives us deeper gratification than seeing organizations across the world openly and collaboratively align themselves with us: 160 cities and 211 Fortune 500 Global companies have picked Huawei as their preferred partners for digital transformation. Shipping more than 200 million smartphones and making remarkable breakthroughs in PC business and IoT ecosystems for smart homes only reinforce our position of strength.
As 5G continued to garner competitive momentum, we continued our steady 5G development work in partnership with our strategic partners, customers and the world’s leading carriers. In addition to signing commercial 5G contracts and shipping 5G basestations worldwide, we launched 140 cloud services in 18 categories, and worked with partners to serve 37 availability zones across 22 regions with the launch of Huawei Cloud. Announcing our AI strategy was another milestone, as we launched a full-stack, all-scenario portfolio of AI solutions and the world’s first all-scenario AI chipset at Huawei Connect in Shanghai.
The Middle East digitalization journey
The Middle East has not bucked Huawei’s global trend of strong growth and performance. We are committed to working with local governments to realize their national plans and visions to become diversified, knowledge-based economies, and over the past year we have furthered this aim by collaborating with public and private entities to strengthen the region’s digital ecosystem and nurture the local ICT talent pool. We were proud to be among the first regions worldwide to import Huawei’s groundbreaking AI chipsets and solutions. We have also conducted a research paper in partnership with Analysys Mason, which found that 5G could provide cumulative revenue of $269 billion for the GCC alone over the next decade – and we look forward to working with our local partners and customers to seize this opportunity.
2019: The year of resilience
While we celebrate our successes, we know there is still much to achieve. 2019 will be the year we invest our attention to building a more resilient business structure and expanding our leading 5G deployment strategy. To achieve these aims, we are calling for greater collaboration with all our partners and customers in the region. In this age, no man – or organization – is an island. We are living in a world of information, where interdependence is deeply embedded into the fabric of society and industry. And it is these interdependencies that drive human society to progress even faster. Progress calls for the concerted efforts of thousands or even tens of thousands of companies working together.
With extensive 5G deployment underway, we are leading the way in collaborating with government globally to launch these new networks. We have the best equipment in the market and intend on remaining at the forefront of 5G development and infrastructure for the next 12 to 18 months and beyond. Very recently, we officially launched our 5G multi-mode chipset Balong 5000 – along with the first commercial 5G device powered by it, the Huawei 5G CPE Pro. Together, these two new products provide the world's fastest wireless connections for smartphones, homes, offices and on the go.
The race to 5G is truly underway, and we are positioned to pioneer its commercialization for regional customers. We are dedicated to our partners and aim to drive operator growth alongside our own. Equipping the region’s countries with 5G capabilities will enable more B2C, B2H and B2B scenarios such as cloud gaming, cloud AR and VR, and IoT for smart cities. In order to materialize the promise of 5G, cloud and AI are needed to maximize the technology’s potential and deliver a superior user experience. The launch of commercial 5G services in the GCC will be crucial to enabling automation and leveraging the power of AI, both of which are firmly embedded in plans to develop smart governments in the region.
Addressing the security concerns
Amidst momentous progress we have also faced challenges. Security has come to the forefront repeatedly and concerns surrounding the Huawei brand have been raised. To our detractors, we stress that security is our highest priority and remains a vital principle in all of our operations. In Huawei’s 30-year history, there has never been any evidence of a security threat originating from the company. There is no evidence to indicate that Huawei equipment is linked to or poses a security threats. Our record is clear.
One must also consider how speculation and unfounded claims around security accusations could halt important progress and drive up costs. Our rotating CEO Mr. Ken Hu said it best: “Security concerns disingenuously raised as an excuse to block market competition would slow adoption of new technology, increase costs for network deployment, and raise prices for consumers.”
Yet these questions have offered us an opportunity to look deeper into our offering and reiterate our dedication to cybersecurity. As a company we have made the executive decision to invest an initial special budget of $2 billion U.S dollars in the next five years to comprehensively improve our software engineering proficiencies. This will keep us competitive and ensure our products and systems are robust enough to fight of any potential attacks.
In the face of concerns from the West, we remain committed to continuing to build our competitiveness in 5G. Ultimately customers make their own decisions, and our role is to offer them the best selection to choose from. Our unmatched portfolio of products and solutions gives us confidence that organizations will continue to choose us. To give an example, Huawei is the only company in the world that can integrate 5G basestations with the most advanced microwave technology. With that capability, Huawei’s 5G base stations do not require fiber connections. Instead, they can use superfast microwave to support ultra-wide bandwidth backhauls. This is a compelling solution that makes a lot of economic sense for regions around the globe, and no other competitor offers it.
We are innovation-driven
Innovation will continue to drive us forward in 2019 and beyond. We are confident leaders, and have an unparalleled team of experts and pioneers in each field to realize our vision. Our products are the result of the collaborative efforts of thousands of dedicated explorers, including 700 mathematicians, over 800 physicists, over 120 chemists and more than 60,000 engineers. Our credentials speak for themselves. We are a member of more than 380 industry organizations where we serve in over 300 key positions and submit 6,000 proposals per year. As a result, we are giants in the wireless, optical, data communications and smart device domains.
We are world leaders in 5G. We have landed 30-plus commercial contracts as of today, and shipped 25,000 5G basestations, in addition to possessing ownership of 2,570 5G patents. Over the next five years, we have pledged to invest a total of more than 100 billion US dollars into R&D. We are optimistic about our prospects: as long as we develop compelling products, there will be customers to buy them.
Our biggest competitor is ourselves. Continuing to pioneer transformative technology will require us to keep persevering in the face of obstacles, lighting the way forward for those behind us. We are confident that 2019 will see us set new benchmarks in ICT, while we remain faithful to our consumers’ security and wellbeing first and foremost.