If you live in Malaysia, you would most likely have seen Huawei’s billboard in the most exclusive and prime areas. It may be a Chinese brand, but you can’t underestimate the practicality and design of Huawei phones that are taking the mobile phone market beyond Asia’s shores by storm.
To date, we know that Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is a multinational networking and telecommunications equipment company based out of China. The company is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Though the name may not have been on your radar as a smartphone company until recently, it turns out the company is the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, overtaken the likes of Ericsson back in 2012.
A 42-year-old ex-military officer started the company
The company was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei. Before found the company, he was in the People’s Liberation Army, serving as a military technologist. While he didn’t hold military rank, he was eventually chosen to be a delegate. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. was merely formed as a private company. At the time, China and the People’s Liberation Army were relying on telecom equipment from outside manufacturers. Zhengfei wanted to focus on local research and development to build telephone exchange switches because, as he said, “switching equipment technology was related to international security, and that a nation that did not have its own switching equipment was like one that lacked its own military.”
Huawei means Chinese achievement
The first character of Huawei’s name in Chinese — 华 — is derived from the Chinese word for flower, but now often refers to ‘China’ or ‘Chinese.’ The second character — 为—, means ‘achievement’ or ‘action.’ Combined, the two characters literally mean ‘Chinese achievement.’
R&D is the key
The main mission of the company was to provide consulting and operations services to most of the enterprises in China and outside the country. The company has around 140,000 employees working and over 75,000 of them are in R&D. Notably, the R&D of the company is spread across many countries like the UK, Pakistan, Canada, Turkey, Ireland, Sweden, Russia, etc. The products and services of the company are deployed in around 140 countries all over the world.
After a few years, the company got a research centre of its own and started doing research and development. The set up got an initial breakthrough by launching its C&C08 digital telephone switch. The company got its first international project in 1997. It then started providing fixed line networks products to a company in Hong Kong.
Spreading its wings after 10 years
In 1999, the company set up its first R&D centre in Bangalore, India. It also entered into a 5-year contract with IBM till 2003. Huawei continued to expand into international markets. It is the first company to deliver LTE/EPC commercial network for Telia Sonera in Norway in the year 2009. In 2013, the company opened its new office in Canada. Over years, Huawei always focused on enhancing its mobile technology and has a number of partnerships with other companies. It also formed a joint venture, 3Com-Huawei and focused on R&D and production of the networking products.
Apart from smartphones
There are around 3 core business units in the company, Telecom Carrier Networks, Enterprise Business and Devices or manufacturing communication devices. The enterprise business unit of the company started in the year 2011. There are a number of network technologies provided by Huawei for telecommunication operators.
The company offers mobile and fixed soft switches as well. The device division of the company provides white label products. The products include embedded modules, USB modems, wireless gateways, etc. Huawei is the largest telecom equipment maker in the world. It is also the largest telephone network equipment maker in China as well. Huawei holds an undefeated first position in soft switches market.
Huawei invested over a million dollars in a university in Canada
The company has invested $1.4 million in Carleton University in Canada. Why? The goal was to establish a research lab dedicated largely to the development of cloud computing services and technology. In fact, Huawei has donated money to a number of services in the name of education. The company has also sponsored MIT’s Communications Futures Program, which studies the future of the telecommunications industry as a whole.
Huawei has partnered with approximately 80% of the world’s top telecommunications companies
By the year 2010, 80% of the top 50 telecom companies worked with Huawei. Some of the prominent partners include Motorola, Vodafone, Talk Talk, T-mobile, Clear wire, Bell Canada, etc. Huawei has a contract with the UK’s biggest company in telecommunication, Everything Everywhere. The contract was to enhance the 2G network services. It is the company’s first network deal with the UK. Notably, it has also sponsored a number of major events and sports teams, including Arsenal F.C., Paris Saint-Germain, the Ghana Football Association, and more.
Huawei is a largely employee-owned company
What that basically means is that employees own stock in the company, with around 64 per cent of employees participating in the employee ownership scheme. Referred to as “virtual restricted shares,” or shares that are not tradable, employees are awarded based on performance. When he or she decides to leave the company, those shares are reverted back to the company. Of course, the employees are compensated for their holding.
It’s important to highlight that just because employees generally own Huawei doesn’t mean they control it. Huawei is still controlled and managed by a subset of management, and Zhengfei actually has the power to veto any major decision as he sees fit. Huawei does say, however, that the Union votes every five years to elect 51 representatives who then select the board of 17 directors.