We participated in the Huawei Analyst Summit 2022 (#HAS22) for three days this week. The conference started with a keynote featuring Rotating Chairman, Ken Hu and then there were many executives and managers in charge of various operating groups at Huawei. To summarize, Hu said there will be challenges ahead and emphasized software, services and partnerships instead of asserting leadership in hardware as it did last year. Additionally, other speakers discussed the progress Huawei is making in F5G, introduced its latest Massive MIMO 64T64R radio system, discussed its progress with both indoor cellular and Fixed Wireless Access markets.
At the keynote, Ken Hu, and his other colleagues on stage made no mention of hardware systems, semiconductor, nor optical component plans, in sharp contrast to the year-ago HAS keynote made by last year’s Rotating Chairman, Eric Xu. Instead Ken and his colleagues focused on the importance of software development (re-engineering software compliers to boost performance, for instance), the opportunity to work with the Huawei cloud service, entry to new markets (automobiles, the metaverse), and of course, the company’s green initiatives. Mr. Hu also addressed supply chain challenges, saying that “it is true that we face a chip shortage,” and that “we have no plans to build chip factories ourselves.” Hu also said that the shortage will be “fixed in a few years.” Hu also said that the company is organizing itself to allow for the shutdown of divisions or product areas more easily than could have been done in the past, which we think could mean it is planning for what might happen if Huawei cannot obtain chips, for instance, for its smartphone business. The last of Hu’s prepared remarks was to remark that “Huawei has quite a few challenges ahead.”
In the Telecom Core meetings that were held, there were several interesting points raised by the presenters. The team says that container based systems are not as mature as that of systems based on Open Stack and that Containers are not standards based. Regarding Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) market, Huawei said that its experience is that “almost all” of its customers are using MEC for network connectivity and though it had offered a marketplace for third party applications, they haven’t been adopted much as of yet. Huawei sees Slicing as an emerging opportunity that will allow its operator customers to monetize their networks and to offer differentiated experiences.
Huawei spent a lot of time conveying that participation in the F5G (Fixed 5G) market is shared with other participants. Among those who shared the stage with Huawei were standards body ETSI, China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, Globe Telecom (Phillipines), MTN Group (South Africa). Besides its product managers discussing F5G, Ken Hu also highlighted its importance during his aforementioned keynote.
Huawei’s Radio Access Network (RAN) team highlighted a new 64T64R Massive MIMO system that has 384 antennae elements. Through multiple presentations, various managers highlighted how the new M-MIMO system enhances throughput and range, reduces power and other advantages of using its new product. The company also highlighted its Digital Indoor System (DIS) as a means of enabling enterprises across various vertical markets including manufacturing, coal mines, the steel industry, the petrochemical industry, shipping ports, healthcare, power-grid companies and others. Huawei said that in 2H22, it will bring to market a low-power chip-based system, as well. The company also highlighted a customer, Schneider Electric, who expects to enter its deployment phase of Huawei DIS systems later in 2022.
We found that Huawei’s participating in the Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) market is interesting. Similar to Ericsson, Huawei isn’t participating meaningfully in the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) part of the FWA market and instead is selling just the RAN equipment. It has a certification program where it endorses other manufacturers, including greenpacket, who made a presentation at the Huawei conference. greenpacket explained that it is seeing a lot of demand lately for “hybrid” FWA CPE systems, which we took to mean that these were battery-based devices that users can travel around with. It is the experience of the presenters (both Huawei and greenpacket) that their customers in places like Kuwait and South Africa consume about 2-3 times more data using FWA than do average mobile (eMBB) customers. The presenters contrasted this with the T-Mobile experience in the US market where 10% of its FWA customers consume 1 TB per month. We found this contrast very interesting and feel that the screen sizes of customers in the US market (probably lots of high-end TVs) dramatically exceed that of the South African market (predominantly smart phones). In our own FWA report, we have seen significant ramp-ups in volume in the 3GPP FWA market.