Huawei Australia CTO outlines 5G plans

Huawei Australia's new CTO has told ZDNet that he will look to use his 5G knowledge and experience to form a collaborative ecosystem while pushing discussions with the federal government.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Huawei Australia's new chief technology officer Dr David Soldani has described the Chinese networking giant's plans for pushing 5G technology in Australia, with his ultimate goals being to form a collaborative ecosystem with partners and customers and spearhead discussions with the federal government.

Speaking on the sidelines of the CommsDay Summit in Sydney on Monday, Soldani told ZDNet that after a year and a half out of the 5G business, he will be firstly looking to "reconnect" with how the industry has moved on the networking technology.

"Especially in terms of innovative technology -- wireless is what really matters in here," Soldani told ZDNet.

"At the same time, we're supporting the communication ... [with] the people that are dealing with the systems, the vendors and operators but also the public sector, so I'm targeting also to communicate directly with the national government."

According to Soldani, such communication with the Australian government will involve making clear there's a "separation" between the wireless area, where Huawei intends to place its 5G focus, and the core network being provided by others, with Huawei willing to communicate this to the government "with any kind of level of details".

The next step in Huawei's Australian 5G play will be collecting and contributing to 5G standards and requirements ahead of the upcoming 3GPP meeting in the Gold Coast in September, and to help its customers transform their 5G "willingness" into networks.

"What we are doing now is we are sitting with our customers and trying to understand what it needs," he explained.

"One of the key requirements coming from them now is the spectrum allocation, and the coexistence of the 5G with the LTE ... you need to find the right combination of bands. So we are helping them -- that's also one of my tasks, to help with this."

Saying collaboration within Australian industry and academia will be important, Soldani added he will be able to transfer his experience and knowledge from dealing with European research centres, the European Commission, and multiple European nations' frameworks to his dealings with Australian counterparts.

When asked whether Huawei will be partnering with Optus and Vodafone to help roll out their 5G networks, Soldani told ZDNet that it is hoping to at least help them expand and improve their 4G networks. Optus CEO Allen Lew told ZDNet last week that the telco has yet to make a final decision on its 5G technology vendor partner, despite carrying out most of its trials so far with Huawei.

Soldani had been appointed as Huawei Australia CTO last month, with the company labelling him a "5G expert" who could assist the Australian branch as the industry "prepares for the future rollout of 5G technology".

Soldani most recently headed up Nokia's 5G Technology business, after serving for eight years at Huawei's European Research Centre in Germany, along with head of IP Transformation Research Centre, head of Network Solution R&D, head of Central Research Institute, and VP of Strategic Research and Innovation in Europe.

His appointment followed the appointment of George Huang as Huawei Australia CEO in January amid a move to push 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) projects locally.

Speaking to ZDNet during Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February, Huang praised the Australian government's 5G Working Group, saying the Chinese networking giant is having "closer and closer communication with the government".

"I do see the government as also more and more open to discuss with industry, the vendors," Huang said.

"The government set up a 5G working group last year, I think that's a very good initiative because you know 5G is not only a product or a technology, it is an ecosystem. It really requires the vendors, the customers, operators, industries to work together to make that happen.

"So I do see a very good initiative from the government, and Huawei are also very happy to work with the government. We are quite open to discuss anything with the government."

Huang also pointed towards Huawei's newly launched 5G customer premises equipment (CPE), saying he sees "potential" for this to be used in Australian networks.

"I want to try to continue to help our operators buy the new technologies that are coming -- 5G and before 5G, 4.5G -- to provide the better-quality equipment to our customers, better services to our customers," the CEO added at the time.

"For enterprise, this is definitely one of my focuses: I want to bring more and more products to the existing customers in mining, oil, and gas, and also explore more verticals to use our technologies, like managing agriculture, transportation."

Huawei Australia reports FY17 results

Earlier on Monday, Huawei Australia reported its FY17 financial results to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), revealing a net profit rise from AU$12.1 million to AU$15.6 million.

Revenue decreased, however, from AU$673.3 million down to AU$623.2 million for the year to December 31.

A breakdown of revenue saw the sale of goods fall from AU$446.3 million to AU$350.3 million year on year; service revenue drop from AU$144.7 million to AU$125.5 million; and construction revenue rise from AU$82.4 million to AU$147.2 million.

Its income tax expenses rose again, from AU$7.5 million to AU$16.3 million, after a AU$6.5 million adjustment for prior years.

Research expenses were nil after Huawei last year removed its R&D spending function from local businesses to hand it over to Chinese HQ.

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