By: Jesse Cryderman

Huawei Walks Tall

Hardly a week went by last month without a big announcement from Chinese network equipment and device manufacturer Huawei. Yes, Huawei is the subject of investigations by both the US Commerce Department and the House Intelligence Committee for possible connections with the Chinese military. Yes, Huawei’s staff size alone—110,000--resembles a standing army. But that’s old news.

Despite security concerns that ebb and flow in North America and parts of Europe, the mammoth multi-national recently signed network equipment deals with Telus, Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE Inc.), Orange Poland, T-Mobile Poland, and TeliaSoneria, among others.  Some of these deals saw Huawei partnering (piggybacking?) with another equipment provider.

Market research in February confirmed what many observers have already surmised—among network equipment providers, Huawei has moved to the front of the pack. Although the final tally won’t become public until April, insiders have already proclaimed that Huawei has deposed Ericsson as the new equipment provider king.  Huawei sold 14 million phones in the fourth quarter (ahead of RIM), and also became the number one supplier of carrier VoIP and IMS equipment.

Then came news that Huawei intends to buy $6 billion worth of microprocessors and communications components from US-based companies, including Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Avago Technologies. This strategic purchase is an olive branch or a chess move, depending on how you look at it.  Either way, that’s a big bag of chips.

Another big story crossed the wire that didn’t name Huawei, but is worthy of mention. A security researcher revealed that Nortel Networks was systematically hacked and infiltrated by someone in China for more than ten years.  During those ten years, countless trade secrets were pilfered and intellectual property was stolen. Then Nortel Networks went bankrupt;  the same Nortel that once provided network equipment to Telus and BCE, Inc., which is now delivered from a Chinese company (Huawei).  Very interesting…

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Is Clearwire in the Clear?

When erstwhile WiMAX evangelist Clearwire reported a record quarter in February, it appeared their luck was turning around.  But just like a karaoke party in Key West, appearances can be deceiving.

Although fourth quarter revenue did indeed double, so did net losses. Why?  It appears the decision to dump WiMAX projects in favor of an LTE game plan had significant cost; $123 million, to be exact.

Erik Prusch, President and CEO of Clearwire, was unfazed. "During the year, we achieved key operational milestones, grew our funding resources, realized operating efficiencies and laid out a long-term vision that we expect will unlock the value of our deep spectrum portfolio through the most capacity-rich LTE deployment in the country," he wrote in an official announcement.  Maybe he knows something we don’t know, like just how willing Sprint is to continue fronting Clearwire the bread it needs to get their LTE network online.


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