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Huawei opening datacentre, expanding research labs in New Zealand

Huawei has said it will build a new datacentre, open two research labs, and procure products and services locally in New Zealand.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor on

Chinese networking giant Huawei will be constructing and opening a datacentre in New Zealand within two years, as well as opening an innovation centre at the Victoria University of Wellington in 2017 and a second one in Christchurch.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei met with Prime Minister Bill English this week to discuss the company's expansion across New Zealand, with Ren saying Huawei is interested by the country's attitudes towards trade, as well as the opportunities for Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity.

"New Zealand's open and fair trade environment, and its emphasis on developing new technology, facilitates our ongoing commitment," Ren said.

"New Zealand has rich tourism resources, and highly developed agricultural and trade sectors. Digital transformation empowered by advanced ICT technology can enable New Zealand to become better connected with the world, and transform its traditional strengths into driving forces of economic growth."

Huawei said it would "seek new R&D partnerships" in order to construct the second innovation lab, which would focus on 5G, IoT, and big data research and development.

University students would be given the chance to travel to Huawei's Shenzhen headquarters as part of its Seeds for the Future program.

Huawei will also open a regional office in Wellington

According to a report by Stuff NZ, Huawei will be spending around NZ$400 million over the next five years on these projects, as well as on procuring more services within New Zealand.

Huawei has been present within New Zealand for several years; back in 2013, mobile provider 2degrees chose Huawei to deploy its 4G network, and in 2014, Spark signed Huawei to help it boost mobile coverage across 3G and 4G networks.

Huawei also formed a Joint Innovation Program with Telecom New Zealand -- now separated into fixed-line provider Chorus and mobile operator Spark -- in 2013, with the companies launching the world's first 700MHz trial as a result.

In Australia, Huawei opened an innovation centre in Sydney in 2015, and a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) lab last month in Queensland to provide research and development opportunities around applications, smart devices, and sensor networks.

James Cook University in Cairns will also offer Australia's first IoT engineering degree. Those studying the IoT degree will have the chance to be hosted at Huawei's campuses in China and Sydney to take part in its Seeds for the Future R&D campaign.

In terms of mobile providers, Huawei is working with Vodafone Australia on NB-IoT trials and with Optus on its 4.5G and 5G networks.

Huawei Australia announces new CEO

Huawei Australia has announced a new CEO in line with its senior executive-rotating policy, with Meng Xiaojie now holding the top position in Australia.

Meng, who has worked for Huawei over a period of more than 10 years, will take the position immediately from Zhao Xichu, who has held the role since February 2014.

Meng previously served as a sales engineer; an account director working with Vodafone Egypt; and Huawei's global sales account director for Vodafone, managing Huawei's global contracts with Vodafone.

He was then promoted to the Huawei Pakistan CEO position.

Meng said he would use his leadership of the Australian business to extend it further into 4.5G, 5G, and IoT technologies.

"Australia is a very competitive market, but has strong growth opportunities for us in the carrier and enterprise sectors," Meng said in a statement.

"We will persist on our 4.5G and 5G journey, and keep delivering innovative NB-IoT solutions for the energy, utilities, transportation, and agriculture industries.

"We will help the local telecommunication market to become more efficient, cost effective, and create innovative solutions for telecom operators."

Meng called NB-IoT "the main game, if not the only game" in terms of IoT.

"We also need to continue to raise our brand awareness, especially this year as we launch industry-leading high-end consumer devices like Huawei P10 and Huawei Watch 2.0 in Australia," Meng acknowledged.

Huawei announced its new flagship smartphone the P10 and its new smartwatch last month.

Updated at 6.15pm AEDT, March 21: Added information from Huawei about its New Zealand initiatives.

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