SEEDS FOR THE FUTURE

Portugal 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Chris Lu, CEO of Huawei, on expanding in Portugal, the smartphone market, and the Seeds for the Future program.

What are Huawei's main operations and business lines in Portugal?

Portugal was one of the first countries for Huawei when it entered Europe. In 2005, we built Huawei's first 3G mobile network in Europe, in Madeira. Afterward, we continued to support the telecom operators to build 4G & 4.5G and Fiber-To-The-Home networks, as well as submarine cables providing best-in-class telecommunications service to Portuguese consumers and Enterprises. In the future, we will work on a connected intelligent world with 3 features: All Things Sensing (sensing the physical world, mapping it to digital signals); All Things Connected (all data will go online); All Things Intelligent (Big data and AI will power our new applications, making all things intelligent). These advances will not be possible without leading ICT technologies, ICT infrastructure will be the foundation of our future intelligent world. This is where Huawei seeks to add value.

What are your strategies to maintain Huawei's leading position in the smartphone sector?

In 2018H1, Huawei shipped 95 million units globally, and we are now in the top two position for global market. In Portugal, we have reached top one for several months. The rapid growth in our market share comes from our strong innovation in new technologies. Huawei is a technology company that invests heavily in R&D: globally, we have 180,000 employees and almost half are involved in R&D. Huawei spends more than 10% of its total revenue on R&D globally every year (over the last 10 years Huawei invested more than USD60 billion). In 2017, we were listed as one of the European top 10 industrial R&D investors.

Huawei will launch the MateBook series in Portugal. What are the highlights of this product, and what are your expectations from the launch?

Traditionally, the laptop business is a ready sales business because there is already enough competition; however, when we entered this segment, we brought in many new ideas and innovations because Huawei is an expert in connectivity and the cloud. We have given the laptop business a new concept. The MateBook X is a powerful laptop that also has an elegant appearance and excellent features. It is extremely slim and has a long battery life, making it extremely convenient for business people.

Can you provide further details on Huawei's project with Altice to deploy 5G networks in Portugal?

5G is a hot topic. Over the past few decades, we mainly sought to improve connectivity between people to people in the 2G, 3G, and 4G eras. With 5G, we are now extending that connectivity to machine to machine. This will bring significant changes in the way we live and work. 5G will bring ultra-high speed up to 20Gbps. The ultra-low latency will enable concepts such as autonomous driving. It will also allow us to connect millions of devices. However, it is important for the entire ecosystem to work together in creating a 5G environment. This includes not only telecom operators, solution providers like Huawei and governmental entities like the Portuguese regulatory authority, ANACOM, as well as all different vertical and industries partners. Many enterprises will be able to combine their industry knowledge and data with ICT to reshape the way they produce and deliver their services. We are already working with our partners in Portugal and have launched the world's first narrow-band IoT smart meter in the utilities segment. We are also working on smart water meters, smart parking, smart agriculture, smart waste management, etc,. All these require an extremely fast 5G infrastructure network first, as well as excellent collaboration in the whole ecosystem.

Are you partnering with Portuguese companies to develop your smart solutions?

Yes; for example, the world's first narrow-band IoT smart meter is a design collaboration between Huawei and Janz, a Portuguese meter company that has many years of experience in the power meter field. Now using Huawei's IoT smart chip, meters can be connected to service providers like EDP. They can constantly transmit power usage data and detect any power failures; therefore, the service provider can manage the energy supply in the most efficient way. All this came from the innovation we did with our local partners. We have connectivity and cloud experts, and we need to work with partners that have an expertise and experience in other industries, such as utilities, manufacturing, transportation, tourism, or others. It requires a great deal of collaboration in the whole ecosystem to make these ideas work. For example, at the moment all cities worldwide, are becoming smart and embracing a digital society to drive economic competitiveness and sustainability for the future. The digital platform will be the engine powering the smart city development by enabling the integration of Big data, Cloud, Edge computing, AI, and IoT technologies which are the foundation of a smart city. The development of a smart city, namely the integration of all these digital technologies that improves city governance and intelligence, could be a highly complex project. However Huawei's digital platform is highly efficient and open to facilitate collaboration with our Portuguese partner's ecosystem, as it will be them to customize the 'smart brain' based on each city's different development requirements. Huawei Portugal is committed to bringing digital to every person, home, and organization to create a fully connected and intelligent world. This is Huawei's main ambition. To do this, we are cooperating with all our partners, and with effort by the industry, we can truly achieve this goal in the future.

Huawei has a program called Seeds for the Future. What is this program about, and what have the results been to date?

Portugal has an open environment, where the government encourages innovation and the development of technology. There is a start-up spirit here. Huawei is a member of the Industry 4.0 Program initiated by the government, and we are constantly contributing innovations and ideas to it. The development of ICT requires young talent, and we have been contributing significantly to the training and development of talent in Portugal. In the past, we did the E-Escola program, bringing internet into schools. We also did FCCM, a national transmission project connecting major Portuguese universities. Our Smart Bus also went to different cities delivering basic ICT training to more than 4,000 students. For our Seeds for the Future program, every year we bring some of the top Portuguese university students in the ICT field to our headquarters for intensive training. They have the chance to get experience in the world's top laboratories and speak with the world's top engineers. We hope these students will be the seeds for future ICT development in Portugal.