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To a digital decade and beyond

Story by
Ken Hu, Deputy Chairman, Huawei

Ken Hu

Deputy and Rotating Chairman of Huawei’s Board of Directors

This year marks Huawei's 20th anniversary in Europe. It's been a great journey, at times challenging, but ultimately rewarding.

We are very proud of what we’ve achieved so far. In close collaboration with all of our partners in Europe, we have connected countless communities across the continent and we continue to support the ongoing development of Europe's digital ecosystem.

When we first set up shop in Madrid back in 2000, 2G network penetration in Europe was around 36% and 3G was still four years away.

Rolling out new telecommunications infrastructure has always been prohibitively expensive in Europe. Because of space and size constraints, building and maintaining new base stations in European cities often costs significantly more than the network equipment itself.

This is still true today. But working together, we were able to create smaller, distributed base stations that save our customers time, space, and rental costs. They're modular, so they're much easier – and cheaper – to install.

We rolled them out in Europe in 2005. Our first customers were able to re-use more than 90% of their existing 2G base stations for 3G, which reduced their total cost of ownership by one-third.

It might not sound like a big deal to someone outside the industry – some random telecoms company saved some money, so what? But it was a game-changer for Europe. Faster, cheaper 3G deployment meant more people getting connected, better network access, lower costs and faster speeds.

That was in 2005. 15 years later, nearly 80% of all people in Europe now have access to 4G, and 5G is already being deployed in more than 20 European countries.

As I said, it's been an incredible journey, and it wouldn't have been possible without the concerted efforts of our customers and partners.

If we've learned anything over the years, it's just that: collaboration is everything. As the world goes digital and technological ecosystems become increasingly intertwined, complex, and interdependent, the need to work together has never been more pressing.

This is especially true right now, when digital technology is helping people and businesses stay connected throughout the pandemic, and will help pave the way for economic recovery moving forward.

Ramping up for Europe's Digital Decade

In her State of the Union speech in September, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, set an ambitious goal for the EU: "We must make this Europe's Digital Decade."

Europe is in a strong position to do so. With a solid industrial base, in-depth industry expertise, a wealth of leading scientists and proprietary operational technology, Europe is poised to lead the digital transformation of many key industries.

And we're doing what we can to support.

Our 5G Joint Innovation Centres and Experience Centres work together with European carriers to incubate 5G-powered applications for all industries.

With our OpenLabs in Munich and Paris, we pair up with local partners in developing new, state-of-the-art digital industry solutions. These labs provide a platform for organisations to more effectively address business challenges and boost their competitiveness in global markets.

In total, we are working with more than 1,000 enterprises across the continent on hands-on joint innovation projects that bring real benefits to European companies – and whole industries.

In addition, we are working together with universities and research institutes to accelerate digitisation and help drive progress towards Horizon Europe 2020.

We're also contributing to broader telecoms initiatives like standardisation, an area where Europe is leading the pack in an increasingly digital world. As an active member of both European and international standards organisations, we are contributing technology, expertise, and feedback to support the development of shared global standards for all enterprises and organisations.

Building shared standards is key, as standards lay the groundwork for shared values, goals, opportunities, and a shared foundation for building and maintaining trust. This is good for people, and it's also good for business.

Our ongoing commitment to Europe

The necessity of global cooperation is growing. During a recent speech at Huawei ECO-CONNECT EUROPE 2020, Luis Jorge Romero, Director General of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), put it perfectly by saying all industry players should move forward through cooperation and "think global, act local."

This is exactly what Huawei is doing in Europe.

We respect European values. We want to do our part to foster a thriving, connected Europe. We respect and embrace European values, including strict compliance with GDPR and all laws and regulations.

Privacy concerns are important to us. Our focus is on breakthroughs in infrastructure and key technology. We don't monetise data, and we won't in the future. This is a hard line. Data management and operations are controlled by our customers and local partners, because European data belongs in European hands.

We will increase investment and procurement in Europe. Europe has a huge, very successful industrial base that we can build on together. We're not here to take over companies or dominate the market; our goal is to increase collaboration with local partners to build a sustainable ecosystem – one that thrives on shared success.

As part of this commitment, we will manufacture leading ICT equipment in Europe to support the competitiveness and resilience of its ICT industry.

We will increase investment in R&D. In particular, we will work with local partners to help our European customers enhance their global competitiveness.

We will support the growth of Europe's digital ecosystem. That means pushing the limits of digital innovation and investing in ICT training to help European people and businesses build their digital skills. This will further enhance global competitiveness and pave the way for greater digital inclusion.

Twenty years together, here's to twenty more

We can't do it alone. All of these commitments build on partnership and close collaboration. Only together can we build a more connected, digital, and prosperous Europe in the 21st century – a thriving ecosystem with abundant opportunity for all.

As many of you know, Huawei is facing some challenges at the moment. Geopolitics has put us in a difficult position. But business is good. Revenue is up.

We will not stop investing in innovation. We will not stop collaborating or supporting our partners. And we will never stop serving our customers.

We have the resources, determination, and expertise to get through this. We have a strong local team of 14,000 people who will keep working hard to preserve the trust and respect of our European partners and customers.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for believing in us, and thank you for your ongoing trust and support.

Today we celebrate the past 20 years in Europe. But more importantly, I look forward to an even brighter 20 years ahead. Not a single digital decade, but a digital decade and beyond. A future driven forward by joint innovation, mutual success, shared values and – above all – ongoing respect and support.

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