Analysts: Huawei continued to grow telecom equipment market share lead in 2018

As the Chinese company continues to grow its lead in the telecom equipment market, Huawei came on strong last week at Mobile World Congress Barcelona, hitting back at U.S. allegations focused on the security of its network gear.

During a keynote presentation, Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said the company is “leading in 5G globally” but, “We understand innovation is nothing without security. Let me say this as clear as possible: Huawei has not and will never plant backdoors we will never allow anyone to do so in our equipment.”

Ping said Huawei serves around 3 billion people, has a three-decade track record of a commitment to security and has superior 5G tech than what is being used in the U.S. “The U.S. security accusation on 5G has no evidence,” he said.

The security of telecoms equipment manufactured by Huawei and compatriot vendor ZTE has been a long-gestating topic of conversation within various niches of the U.S. federal government. But, as President Trump continues a hardline economic policy position against China, Huawei has become an increasingly focal point of the East-West dialogue. In fact, amid this prolonged back-and-forth, Canadian officials arrested Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of U.S. officials who allege she intentionally side-stepped sanctions prohibiting business dealings with Iran.

Back in Barcelona, as the telecoms industry gathered for its biggest annual exhibition and conference, U.S. State Department official Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary for cyber and international communications and information policy, spoke to the press a few hours after Ping’s keynote.

He said the Chinese state can force Huawei and other Chinese companies to hand over data, which poses a security threat. “Chinese laws require these firms to support and assist Beijing’s mass security apparatus without any democratic checks and balances on access to or use of data that touches the network or equipment.”

To date the U.S hasn’t produced concrete evidence of Huawei as a security threat or proxy of the Chinese state. Meanwhile, back at Ping’s keynote, the executive reminded the audience of publicly-outed evidence of a massive communications surveillance program run by the United State’s National Security Agency–“PRISM, PRISM on the wall, who is the most trustworthy of them all?”

So what does all of this scrutiny actually doing to Huawei in terms of business success? In short, nothing; actually, one analyst firm saw that Huawei continued to grow it market share, and dominance, throughout 2018.

According to Stefan Pongratz and Jimmy Yu of  Dell’Oro Group, “Huawei’s revenue share continued to improve in 2018–gaining about two percentage points of share annually in each of the past five years. During this period, Ericsson’s and Nokia’s market share declined about one percentage point annually on average until 2018 when both vendor[s]held their market share flat.”

In a research note, Pongratz and Yu said the entire telecom equipment market grew 1% in 2018 after three years of decline. The turnaround is attributed to sales of broadband access, optical transport, microwave and mobile RAN. “In addition to the strong focus on LTE and LTE-Advanced, the shift toward 5G NR continued to accelerate throughout the year,” they wrote.

The big four U.S. operators–potentially big three if Sprint and T-Mobile US combine–don’t use Huawei gear but a handful of smaller, largely rural wireless carriers in the country do. The U.S. is pushing hard for European officials to keep Huawei from participating in 5G network deployments, but that’s by no means turning out to be a home run strategy.

Reports suggest leaders in the United Kingdom are  considering a rule that would limit Huawei to providing no more than 50% of a network, although the specifics of that are still murky and, if accurate, 50% is 50% more than what the U.S. was pushing for in terms of 5G participation. Similarly, in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for Huawei to provide assurances around security and is reportedly pushing for a deal that would let Huawei participate in Germany’s roll out in exchange for a “no-spying” arrangement.

As this conversation in Europe continues, Huawei this week is opening a new cybersecurity center in Brussels, Belgium, where the European Union is headquartered.

While its prospects in the U.S. are seemingly limited and the fight for Europe very much undecided, Huawei faces strict limitations in Japan, New Zealand and Australia. But, as analysts have noted, Huawei is dominant and growing. In fact, during Mobile World Congress, the company made operator announcements demonstrating a diversified market reach. Huawei will provide end-to-end network equipment for Swisscom and, in South Africa, for carrier Rain.

Back at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Strayer said U.S. officials are “constantly talking to other governments” about the threat posed by Huawei, calling the company “duplicitous and deceitful. Really, do you want to have a system potentially compromised by the Chinese government or would you rather go with a more secure alternative?”










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