European Innovation Day in London re-affirms Huawei’s commitment to Europe
Huawei has reiterated its on-going commitment to Europe at its European Innovation Day held this week in London.
Vincent Pang, president of Huawei’s Western European region said by shoring up Europe’s digital infrastructure through optical networks, 5G and Cloud, Huawei was committed to Europe having the best and leading infrastructure in the next 5 – ten years.
Huawei first arrived in Europe in 2004, and since then has two HQs here, 47 offices, and experienced year on year growth of 9 per cent.
In these 17 years, the ICT giant has been actively involved in the development of Europe’s digital infrastructure, and has a priority of on-going investment in technological innovation.
As part of these efforts, the company launched the Huawei Innovation Research Programme (HIRP) last month, and works closely with more than 100 leading universities and research institutes. Other initiatives include the European Developer Enablement Plan, launched in 2016, and projects like X Labs and OpenLabs.
The Global OpenLabs programme was announced in March this year. It is the means by which Huawei can facilitate joint innovation and solution launches with local partners across a number of sectors such as smart city, finance, transportation, energy, manufacturing and media.
There are already 5 OpenLabs in existence, and Huawei announced that it is to open a new OpenLab in London this year, and is currently looking for a location in which to site it. A total of twelve labs are earmarked for opening globally this year.
Ken Hu, Huawei’s deputy chairman and rotating CEO, said, "As Europe goes digital, our contribution takes several different forms. The first is providing competitive technology and products that are the result of our long-term investment in basic research. The second is working closely with partners all across the industry landscape to develop targeted solutions for European customers. And our third contribution is promoting an open digital ecosystem."
While Hu sees that broadband networks are key enablers for Europe’s digital transformation process, there are practical challenges here.
According to the EU’s 2017 Digital Progress Report, 30-meg broadband coverage in Europe currently stands at 76 per cent, while coverage in rural areas is at 40 per cent. There is a big gap when compared to countries such as Korea and Japan which both enjoy 100-meg broadband at 99 per cent.
The problem with European broadband is the enormity of investment required. To meet its connectivity goals for 2025, the EU needs a total investment of €500 billion euros, but there is still a shortfall of €155 billion euros.
Hu gave three recommendations for Europe. The first is to expand coverage, especially in rural areas. Second, he called on European operators to enhance network performance and, through nonstop innovation, drive the development of networks to address the needs of emerging applications like high-definition video and automatic controls for smart factories. His third recommendation was for governments to create a more supportive policy environment to attract long-term investment from the private sector and help promote shared success.
"Europe has a strong industrial base, and speeding up the digital transformation process will be vital to its economic growth. It will also help set a benchmark for the rest of the world," Hu said.
Among the strengths that will drive its digitisation, Europe has a long history of innovation, a rich pool of talent, and solid research capabilities. According to Huawei’s 2017 Global Connectivity Index, 5 of the top 10 countries with the largest number of IT employees are in Europe. Mainstream wireless technologies like 2G, 3G and 4G all originated in Europe, and the region is gearing up to play a leading role in 5G.
Hu also noted that both government and industry need to collaborate more closely, share in the benefits of digital transformation, and shoulder the risks together.
"Today, technology is increasingly globalised, so digital transformation needs to be globalized as well. Against this backdrop, open collaboration across sectors and regions is particularly important for countries that hope to successfully go digital," he concluded.
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