Ekholm of Ericsson: Huawei’s not better

Borje Ekholm, Ericsson CEO, says there’s ‘no one ahead of us’ on 5G — not even Huawei. Huawei’s $17B research budget makes them formidable, but the oft-heard claim that no one comes close is exaggerated. Huawei makes excellent equipment, but they are not the only one.

There’s no simple way to say who’s ahead in a technology with literally a thousand different aspects. Huawei and ZTE delivered Massive MIMO in 2016, two years ahead of the Westerners. But Ericsson is first with field demonstrations of “dynamic spectrum sharing,” which makes 5G in lower frequencies more efficient.

We have field results from Chinese and Korean carriers using both Huawei and Ericsson equipment. There’s no evidence either is ahead.

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Survive & Thrive: $121,800,000,000 240M phones

Huawei’s Q4 sales were $36,000,000,000. Sales for 2019 were up 18%. 55 million phones sold for a total of 240 million on the year.

Huawei will “survive and thrive,” I wrote the Washington Post back in May. I had researched the components Huawei needs; all but a handful could be sourced outside of the U.S. It had over $30 billion in cash to provide a cushion, with little debt.

The Chinese government was not going to let its premiere industrial company fall behind. It has countered the U.S. attacks around the world. Both India and Germany came under enormous U.S. pressure. Neither has bolted.

5G in China is providing a remarkable boost. China is on track to have 150 million 5G phones by the end of 2020. That’s likely 10 times as many as any other country.

130,000 radios are in place; over 400,000 will be added in 2020. The Minister said, “accelerate” and the results are remarkable. China will be over 2/3rds of the 5G market this year, leaving everyone in the dust. DC claims the U.S> can be #1 are a joke.

Huawei is benefiting enormously from the growth in China. It nows has over 40% of the Chinese phone market. The Chinese people are switching to Huawei, in a spontaneous show of patriotic support. In 2020, China is likely to meet or exceed the 400 million phone sales of the last few years.

WSJ Discovers China Ties Export Credits, States Offer Location Incentives, and Banks Give Loans to Large Companies

WSJ is shocked, shocked to discover that China supports major Chinese companies. The first half of the article and the headline encourages the reader to infer that unreasonable Chinese government support is why Huawei has done so well.

The facts in the article don’t support that claim. By and large, the inference is inaccurate. Huawei’s success is primarily due to extraordinarily hard work and farseeing management. Like most large companies, it takes advantage of government support, which often favors tech companies.

Yes, the government ties low-interest loans in Africa to purchases from Chinese companies. So do the US, the Koreans, and many others..

The city of Dongguan provided low-cost land for a large research center. Dozens of US cities, including New York & Washington, offered massive subsidies to Amazon when considering a second headquarters. Wisconsin promised $3B for a Foxconn plant.

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CTO Enrique Blanco: “I have found no evidence of a security risk.”


Blanco of Telefonica is one of the most respected CTOs in world telecom, winning many awards. He’s engineered networks for 35 years, now in charge of hundreds of millions of lines at Telefonica. He’s been deeply involved in 3G, 4G, and 5G. His fiber network is one of the top two in Europe.

“We have no evidence of back doors … we monitor every day,”  he tells Reuters. Blanco was announcing that Telefonica and Telefonica/O2 would add a second 5G supplier alongside Huawei. That’s pragmatic and protects TEF from political problems.

Almost no one outside the security apparatus believes Huawei is spying for China. Even German Chancellor Merkel, who has access to security files, hasn’t seen any reason to believe it.

“There will be consequences”

Ambassador Wu Ken warns, “If Germany were to take a decision that leads to Huawei’s exclusion from the German market, there will be consequences. The Chinese government will not stand idly by.

He indirectly threatened retaliation against the German automakers in China with a hypothetical example. “It would be pure protectionism if Bejing labeled German vehicles unsafe just because it can produce its own cars.”

Germany’s share of the world auto market has fallen by half in recent decades. German companies produced 8 million cars in China in 2018, about a quarter of the market. German automakers have invested tens of billions in China.

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