Huawei eyes emerging IoT markets

Article By : Pablo Valerio

Huawei has been diversifying its product portfolio for several years, trying to get back into the American market through their consumer division.

Republican Donald Trump has been elected as the next president of the United States, and it’s a decision that’s expected to have serious implications that will carry for the next four years, not just for the American people but also for Chinese companies trying to grow their business in the country.

Trump’s upset win of the U.S. presidential election will roil a technology sector largely opposed to his positions on trade and immigration. It’s still unclear where President-elect Trump stands on other top tech issues such as corporate tax laws and federal R&D spending. In the campaign, Trump made clear he wants to “rip up” and renegotiate existing trade deals in hopes of reviving manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

It is no secret that the two big Chinese networking giants, Huawei and ZTE, have been effectively banned from any infrastructure and wireless business in the U.S. since 2012 when a U.S. Congressional report accused them of spying for the Chinese government.

However, Huawei and ZTE have been gaining market share recently in consumer electronics, such as smartphones and routers, and some home IoT home appliances.

Huawei has been diversifying its product portfolio for several years, trying to get back into the American market through their consumer division. At the same time, it wants to enter the smart cities market with sensors, communications technology and analytics.

The company, however, has been concentrating efforts in emerging markets, where the lack of modern wired-communications infrastructure makes these markets more willing to jump directly into wireless technologies to solve connectivity problems. Huawei hopes to serve the needs of their growing populations and leverage the latest technology for their smart grids, advanced communications and smart city initiatives.

I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Wu Chou at the IoT Solutions World Congress (IoTSWC) in Barcelona. Dr. Chou gave an overview of Huawei’s current IoT strategy, which is based on IT and connectivity, he says. You can hear more of his thoughts in the video below:

Huawei has been developing a comprehensive IoT Smart City portfolio, Chou says, working in different projects, mostly in emerging markets. Huawei is a major contributor to Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) standards organisation. Narrowband, and 4.5G communications constitute the basis for the deployment of smart city solutions that can communicate without the need for expensive fixed line deployments. That is something, Chou argues, that is highly attractive to cities in the developing world, where communications infrastructure is much less developed.

The same way that entire countries, especially in Africa, made the jump to 3G and 4G wireless networks before deploying fixed-line communications for their citizens, the new IoT cellular and narrowband connections are enabling cities to control different services wirelessly.

Chou gave the example of Huawei’s Connected City Lighting Solution, which connects street lamps to the IoT and adopts a GIS-based management system, enabling cities to enhance the control and performance of every street lamp.

“Traditional street lamps are controlled collectively at a central point, and cannot be controlled individually. A system failure in this scenario could result in massive energy wastage, such as street lamps being turned on during bright sunlight,” Chou said. “Huawei Connected City Lighting Solution addresses this challenge by providing multi-level smart controls, which comprise network smart controls on the first level and local smart controls on a secondary level.”

He also mentioned that their street lampposts can be used to install several sensors, act as Wi-Fi and Narrowband hubs, used for traffic and parking monitoring, etc. According to the company, this solution can result in savings of nearly 90% in operational costs. Shanghai is the first city to install the lamps all over the municipality.

When asked about Huawei’s challenges in the U.S. market, the New Jersey-based Chou acknowledged that the wireless infrastructure market is still very difficult for them, but in the meantime, they are collaborating with other players in 5G technologies, and consumers are recognising the Huawei brand in smartphones and other devices. He insisted that the company is focusing its IoT efforts first in its home market, China, and then in developing markets in Asia and Africa.

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