Tech firm Huawei promises a ‘better connected Ireland’

Controversial Chinese telecoms giant hosts Irish broadband forum in Dublin on Friday

Pictured at the Huawei Ireland Broadband Forum are Miriam O’Callaghan, Eircom chief executive Herb Hribar, Imagine Chairman Sean Bolger, BT Ireland chief executive Colm O’Neill, and William Batt, partner at Indecon International Economic. Picture Jason Clarke Photography

Pictured at the Huawei Ireland Broadband Forum are Miriam O’Callaghan, Eircom chief executive Herb Hribar, Imagine Chairman Sean Bolger, BT Ireland chief executive Colm O’Neill, and William Batt, partner at Indecon International Economic. Picture Jason Clarke Photography

 

Deputy chairman of the board and rotating chief executive with Huawei, Guo Ping has told an audience of Irish broadband industry experts that the Chinese telecommunications giant is “committed” to building a “better connected Ireland”.

Working with “all the major telecom providers in Ireland”, the company’s various services and solutions are already “serving two million Irish citizens” according to Mr Ping.

The company - which is the second biggest telecoms equipment maker in the world and employs over 75 people in Ireland between research and development centres in Cork, Dublin and Athlone - hosted the Huawei Ireland Broadband Forum in the Four Seasons Hotel, Ballsbridge on Friday.

“Huawei has accumulated rich experience on national broadband projects around the world and we will bring this experience to bear by being open and cooperative with local government and working together with Irish operators and service providers to create the infrastructure needed to power the Irish information society of the future,” said Mr Ping.

Speakers at the event included ComReg chairperson, Kevin O’Brien, who spoke of increasing amounts of “customer complaints” in the broadband sector as well as the ambition to see “an increase in services” over 30Mpbs in the near future.

While Minister for Innovation Richard Bruton emphasised that broadband infrastructural investment must continue to ensure Ireland doesn’t rank “among the laggards” in terms of high speed broadband roll out.

In total, Huawei employs 150,000 workers worldwide, deploying a variety of services and solutions - from broadband infrastructure to smartphones - in over 170 countries, serving three billion people.

Huawei’s total research and development investment in Ireland will reach over €.4.4 million in 2014 and Mr Ping said the company is “committed to becoming a responsible corporate citizen of Ireland”.

The company’s chief strategy marketing officer, William Xu confirmed during the week that Huawei is set to add over 5,000 workers in Europe during the next five years, which includes doubling up the amount of research and development staff to 1,700.

Huawei’s revenue in Europe, the Middle East and rose by almost 10 per cent last year to push beyond €10 billion. The company though has a fractured relationship with a number of  governments with fears of “back doors” built into the company’s hardware seeing the US government blocking Huawei from doing business in the country.

While allegations surfaced earlier this year of the NSA monitoring communications by Huawei executives and obtaining sensitive information on the company.

Meanwhile, in Australia the company was banned by the Australian government from participating in its national broadband network.

In his speech, Mr Ping note that “our procurement in Ireland reached €5.5 million last year” while the rotating chief executive also noted that the company - which has operated in the Irish market for a decade now - is “cooperating with leading academic institutions in Ireland, and participated in undergraduate employment programs”.

The forum came a day after Mr Ping met Taoiseach End Kenny who said he looked forward “to the company continuing to invest in the country”.