With just three words, an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald seeks to almost completely misrepresent what’s actually happening in Australia’s mobile landscape.
When Vodafone Australia’s CEO Iñaki Berroeta said “No More Huawei”, he wasn’t talking about Australian carriers moving to deliberately remove carrier equipment from Chinese company Huawei. Far from it. Rather, he was making a fairly self-evident statement which must’ve been dollar signs to a journalist’s eyes.
After Huawei was banned from participating in Australia’s 5G network build, today’s article would have you believe that carriers like Vodafone would be conducting a full purge of their networks to remove all Huawei equipment. But no, Mr Berroeta said quite the opposite. Let’s look at a couple of the choice quotes which give this story much more context:
“I’m comfortable with keeping [Huawei] on 4G because we have checked with authorities and that is perfectly ok, so I don’t think we’ll have an issue around keeping that,” Mr Berroeta said.
“What we know for a fact is that on 5G we will be operating with a different vendor.”
That much is known. The crux of the article comes just below, where we see the following tidbit:
“There will be a year, sooner rather than later, where 80 per cent of our traffic will be 5G. There will be a time when it will be zero [on 4G]. When it’s zero there is no more Huawei,” he said.
And there it is. Just as reporting the sky is sometimes blue, once the transition from 4G to 5G is complete, the logical conclusion follows that there will be no Huawei carrier hardware in use in Australia. An unremarkable statement, you might think, but three words which are easily seized upon to make headlines.
Huawei Australia are only too well aware of their situation in Australia at the moment, but are they worried? If they are, they’re definitely not letting it show. Huawei’s head of corporate affairs Jeremy Mitchell was quite clear in his belief that Huawei’s lot would continue to improve, as the company’s carrier business is just one arm. John Lord, Huawei Australia’s independent chairman, reiterated this view at a recent private function, stating clearly that Huawei’s growing consumer sales were a sign the company wasn’t going anywhere.
For the short term, this is almost guaranteed. There’s certainly precedent for successful smartphone makers tanking and virtually disappearing, but Huawei doesn’t appear to be on that trajectory – at least, not yet. Shipping more units than Apple, Huawei’s already the number 2 smartphone vendor worldwide, and it’s clear that Huawei has one thing in its sights: further growth, uninhibited by 5G bans in a handful of countries.
Whether you’re a fan of Huawei’s products or not, one thing is almost certain. I think it’s going to be some time before there’s “No More Huawei”.