Price not the point, says Huawei

Summary:The Australian arm of Chinese network vendor Huawei says the perception it competes primarily on price is misguided. Although Huawei has only had a local presence for a couple of years, the vendor has already won significant business from large telcos and claims to be making inroads into the enterprise market.

The Australian arm of Chinese network vendor Huawei says the perception it competes primarily on price is misguided.

Although Huawei has only had a local presence for a couple of years, the vendor has already won significant business from large telcos and claims to be making inroads into the enterprise market.

Observers have consistently pointed out the Huawei price advantage as a deciding factor in winning deals, but the company's local deputy managing director Hong Re told ZDNet Australia the perception was inaccurate.

"Somehow we have this wrong perspective of Huawei always using price as a weapon," he said in an interview yesterday. "But in so many cases happening all over the world, we win the project not because of the price."

Re said the Australian market particularly wasn't "that price-sensitive" and instead focused more on the quality of product and services.

Pointing out Huawei globally had almost half of its 40,000-strong workforce working in research and development, Re said the company was confident it could compete on product quality.

Another 38 percent worked in sales, marketing and technical support, he said, claiming this allocation would help Huawei deliver quality services.

"We also can provide a total solution," said Re, highlighting Huawei's ability to serve both the carrier and enterprise markets.

"Huawei is working with carriers, so we have lots of experience working in large networks, more complicated networks ... this is good for us in the enterprise market," he said.

The customer connection
In Australia, Huawei has so far focused on selling to telcos, with some success. Both Optus and PowerTel are using the vendor's hardware to build large broadband networks.

Although PowerTel has admitted problems integrating the Huawei kit into its existing network, and Optus' slow build timetable has fuelled rumours of the same issues, Re maintained the his company had a very good relationship with both carriers.

"We are working very closely trying to keep the [network rollout] schedule on time, this is very important to Optus," Re said of the SingTel subsidiary's broadband build.

In both cases Huawei is dealing directly with its customers without partner intermediaries.

Huawei has also made inroads into the New Zealand market, recently establishing an office across the Tasman to support its work with Zimbabwean mobile phone operator Econet.

However despite the country's move last week to open up the country's copper telephony network to competition, Re doesn't envisage a immediate boost in spending from carriers. He said his company would keep an eye on developments in the country.

Huawei has offices in both Sydney and Melbourne, with a total of around 70 staff down under. Between 60 and 70 percent of those are local staff.

The vendor also covers Pacific countries like Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tonga from its Australian headquarters.

Topics: Telcos, Optus, Telstra

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