What’s up with... Huawei, Apple, UK broadband

  • Huawei suffers shrinkage, sees ‘loophole’ about to close in the US
  • Apple’s doing OK
  • Project Gigabit’s latest phase

We end the news week with an update on Chinese vendor Huawei, which while being stomped on in many parts of the world is still a sales behemoth, and some eye-watering numbers from Apple. 

Huawei is not the company it once was.... but it’s still a beast! The company says it generated revenues of CNY455.8 billion ($71.2 billion) during the first nine months of this year, a 32% year-on-year decline that the company attributed mainly to significant “impact” on its consumer (smartphones/devices) division, which is now smaller following the sale of the Honor business line late last year, but which has also been hammered by US trade sanctions. But still, $71.2 billion and a reported net profit margin of 10.2%? Not too shabby by any standards... 

But if Huawei starts to grow again in the future, it won’t be from new network equipment orders placed by US network operators... The pressure on Chinese vendors from the US administration, which ramped during the Donald Trump era, hasn’t relented under Joe Biden’s Presidency: The US Senate has just passed the Secure Equipment Act of 2021 which, according to Republican Senator Marc Rubio “closes a loophole by directing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules to clarify that it will no longer review or issue new equipment licenses to companies on the agency’s ‘Covered Equipment or Services List’ that pose a national security threat, such as Chinese state-backed firms Huawei and ZTE.” Under existing rules, federal funds can’t be used to acquire Huawei or ZTE gear – the new act extends that to any purchases, whether with private as well as public funds, and only requires Biden’s signature to make it law (and he’s gonna sign it...)

While Huawei’s smartphone sales are on the decline, Apple appears to be flogging quite a few... It just reported revenues of $83.4 billion for the three months to 25 September, up by 29% year-on-year. iPhone sales accounted for $39.9 billion of the quarter’s revenues, up from $26.4 billion a year ago. The numbers are astonishing. And even though the company’s share price is down slightly today, by 3.6% to $147.09, as investors fret about chip shortages, Apple’s market valuation is currently $2.43 trillion. Read more

Phase 3 of the UK’s Project Gigabit, a government scheme to ensure Brits have decent broadband wherever they live, has been unveiled, with seven contracts covering 10 areas (across Cheshire, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Essex, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire, East Riding and North Yorkshire) up for grabs. The government likes to make a big deal of the overall £5 billion value of the scheme, but it’s handing it out in dribs and drabs and seems more concerned about using tabloid newspaper vernacular to promote how great it is, rather than present the facts to the tax-paying public (who, essentially, are funding these rollouts...): I’d like to see more clear and specific details shared with the general public without having to read about “levelling up” (marketing tosh, I tell thee!) and how fibre broadband lines are “capable of blistering download speeds of 1,000 megabits per second.” Blistering? I hope not! Read more


It’s those pesky subscribers again! The newly published Top 10 risks in telecommunications 2021 report from Ernst & Young has it that “customer expectations drive up security and sustainability concerns on telecoms risk radar.” Adrian Baschnonga, EY Global Telecommunications Lead Analyst, commented, “Telecoms networks have withstood higher usage during national lockdowns, but telcos remain under customer and stakeholder pressure to improve network performance and coverage. At the same time, well-funded alternative infrastructure providers are adding to high levels of competitive intensity. As such, telcos’ ability to provide high-quality connectivity remains critical during a period of pronounced social and economic upheaval.” Baschnonga is referring to a new EY survey that “confirms that failure to safeguard this core competency is the number one challenge facing them.” From Number 1 down to Number 10, the top risks are: Failure to ensure infrastructure reach and resilience, Underestimating changing imperatives in privacy, security and trust, Failure to redesign workforce structure and skill sets, Failure to mitigate supply chain disruption, Poor management of the sustainability agenda, Inability to scale internal digitisation initiatives, Ineffective engagement with external ecosystems,  Failure to maximise value of infrastructure assets, Failure to take advantage of new business models, Inability to adapt to changing regulatory landscape. So, not too much to worry about then? What is notable is that security, privacy and trust issues are up from fifth to second place on Top 10 ranking. Elsewhere, sustainability, now a strategic priority for telcos, is a new Top-Five entrant, while infrastructure reach and resilience remains ‘Top of the Pops’.

After an understandable period of hesitation for some, the world’s big carriers and equipment vendors appear to have all come around enthusiastically to support private 5G networks where before they may have been lukewarm on the idea, especially where they might involve the private ownership of spectrum. MTS and Ericsson have sealed a strategic partnership to develop private networks in Russia. In fact the companies have been working together since at least 2019 and have thus far implemented more than 15 5G ready private network pilot projects for private networks  because, they say, there is increasing demand for dedicated private networks from various industries - particularly the mining and energy sectors.

BT’s EE mobile network says it’s switching on ‘indoor 5G’ as the next phase in its UK 5G rollout. It’s putting the 700MHz spectrum it won at auction to work at 50 sites initially. It says it’s seen a seven-fold increase in people using its 5G network in the last 12 months and it’s pledged to extend 5G to offer it to half the UK by 2023 and to everywhere by 2028, so feels its doing enough to keep ahead of the demand curve, pointing out that it recently took top spot in the RootMetrics ‘Everyday’ 5G rating.  Read more detail here. Customers can check indoor and outdoor 5G connectivity in their area by entering their postcode and device into EE’s online Coverage Checker here: EE Coverage & Network Status Checker | Check your signal .

AccelerComm which has set its sights on reducing latency and boosting efficiency at the 5G IP layer, says it’s been been able to demo a fully compliant O-RAN AAL (Acceleration Abstraction Layer) Forward Error Correction (FEC) product for the Xilinx Telco Accelerator cards. The company says it’s an important step on the road to speeding up Open RAN 5G to enable ultra-reliable, low latency communications, such as VR/AR, industrial IoT, autonomous vehicles and drone control. Read more...

Multi-cloud moves: Alkira says it’s partnering with Google Cloud to make it easier for customers to deploy network integrations spanning existing on-premises and cloud environments. Alkira claims its Cloud Networking as-a-Service (CNaaS) solution makes it easier to connect to, through and between clouds, including integration with legacy data center networks and existing SD-WAN fabrics. Google’s Network Connectivity Center launched in March of this year to support customers to deploy, manage and scale networks connecting legacy and cloud environments. Here’s Google’s blog on its approach to networking partners...

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