Huawei woos West with message of security, trust

Cathy Meng, CFO of Huawei

Cathy Meng, CFO of Huawei

Damaged by rumor and innuendo in the U.S. market and the victim of geo-political battles not of its own making, communications gear vendor Huawei Technologies Co. remains focused on wooing the west with a message of network security, stability and integrity.

At the ICT Finance Forum in New York this week, Huawei CFO Cathy Meng said the company’s commitment to supplying the network underpinnings of trusted communications systems was both a business mission and a social responsibility for the Chinese manufacturer.

“We feel the great responsibilities on our shoulders,” Meng said at the event. “Huawei’s key responsibility is to maintain the integrity and health of our business so we can continue to support the consumers, enterprises and carriers we are proud to have as customers. We will continue to build the global information society.”

That statement — and the fact that Huawei officials even need to say it out loud – says a lot about what the vendor has been through in the past two years as it looks to expand its global presence in North American markets ruled by home-grown competitors, chiefly Cisco Systems Inc.

Huawei has been dealing with suspicions about its trustworthiness  since October 2012 when a U.S. congressional subcommittee issued a report citing Huawei and fellow China-based telecommunications company ZTE for secretive business practices and ties to the Chinese communist government and claims that its equipment could be used to spy on U.S. companies and government agencies.

The rhetoric escalated last year when former CIA and NSA chief Michael Hayden told the Australian Financial Review that Huawei has “shared with the Chinese state intimate and extensive knowledge of the foreign telecommunications systems it is involved with. I think that goes without saying.”

Hayden is now a director for Huawei competitor Motorola Solutions Inc.

The slurs were enough to get Huawei chief executive Eric Xu to say last year that Huawei was “Not interested in the U.S. market anymore.”  But since that time, the Chinese vendor with a strong global channel of resellers has softened its line on America and indicated it is looking for a do-over in the U.S.

“Some of the noise in the system has slowed us down, that’s the reality,” Jane Li, COO for Huawei Enterprise USA told Channelnomics recently. “It is frustrating. It has taken unreasonable time for the noise to go away, but I believe it will. I still firmly believe in America.”

Part of Huawei’s resurgence has been fueled by revelations that seem to exonerate Huawei from the scandalous accusations that it posed a threat to national security in the U.S. and other western countries. NSA internal documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden show the agency was deeply involved in efforts to spy on Huawei as early as 2007. The NSA operation, code-named “Shotgiant” began as an effort to prove the Shenzhen-based vendor had ties China’s People’s Liberation Army.

The timeline of the surveillance indicates U.S. officials should have known the accusations against Huawei were at least grossly inflated, but went forward with a public smear campaign anyway.

“Huawei is a $40 billion dollar global industry leader, trusted and proven across 150 markets, with gear deployed by major operators in every OECD and every NATO country, and across the rest of the planet,” Huawei’s Vice President of External Affairs William Plummer toldChannelnomics in March. “Those that purport otherwise have never – not once – substantiated their mis-representations and they should be held accountable for fewer jobs and less investment and more expensive broadband in the U.S., a direct result of politico-protectionism which has done nothing to protect U.S. networks or national security.”

Huawei appears well positioned to take advantage of a fresh restart in the U.S. market, recently reporting revenues of $39.5 billion, up 8.5 percent, with a net profit of $3.5 billion. The company currently earns about 65 percent of its revenue from markets outside of China.

The vendor’s carrier network business accounted for $27.5 billion of that total, but Huawei’s enterprise and consumer businesses jumped by 32.4 percent and 17.8 percent to $2.5 billion and $9.4 billion last year, respectively.

Huawei is looking to keep that momentum with a set of enterprise services and support, including call center services, equipment delivery and technician support across the U.S. Dubbed Huawei Enterprise Services and Support, the program includes includes 24/7 call center services delivered by the Huawei Technical Assistance Center (TAC) in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with authorized service partner Essintial Enterprise Solutions.

The program’s frontline and backline support will be augmented by TAC operations in Plano, Texas; Romania; and China. Huawei is guaranteeing partners four-hour onsite parts and technician support to some 40,000 U.S. locations. The company this spring also rolled out the Huawei Certified Service Partner Program to help partners deploy and maintain Huawei ICT solutions and equipment, a portfolio that includes networking, server storage, eLTE, cloud and data center networks, BYOD, videoconferencing and collaboration solutions.

And the company’s defiant resilience carried over into CFO Meng’s presentation at the ICT Finance Forum this week. She said Huawei remains committed to complying with all of the laws and regulations of the countries in which it operates. The company’s responsibility, she added “means striving to provide our customers with superior services to ensure Huawei’s healthy and stable growth.”

“Over the past 27 years, no matter how difficult the situation, our employees have held strong to their positions to ensure secure and stable network operations,” said Meng. “In difficult times and in the face of natural disasters, when others rushed away, our employees ran in the opposite direction because they knew that if networks are down, more people will suffer far greater miseries.”

This article originally appeared on Channelnomics.