Huawei announces Australian board of directors

Aimed at boosting confidence, part of push for NBN contracts

Huawei has moved to boost confidence in its local operations, announcing the appointment of a local board of directors; a move the company hopes will secure it further government- and National Broadband Network (NBN)-related contracts.

The Chinese telecommunication equipment vendor said the board would focus on increasing local staff members as well as trying to build a more positive image of the company, which has faced US government concerns that it poses a national security threat.

Huawei’s government and corporate affairs director, Jeremy Mitchell, said while the approach was about building local business, it would also ease concerns around such allegations addressed in an open letter by Huawei’s US arm, and give the company a foot in the door for future NBN Co contacts.

“[The approach is] more in line with our localisation strategy, but will it help in that area [of allaying national security concerns]? Of course it will, but that hasn’t been our motivation in doing this.”

Despite NBN Co announcing it would put its tender process on hold, Huawei said it would continue to push for inclusion in the national infrastructure project.

“We have a lot to offer the NBN, but what we have to offer is up to NBN Co,” he said. “They’ve obviously announced Alcatel-Lucent [as a partner] and said they will announce a second vendor, and we’d obviously like to be a part of that.

“We’ve got a proven area in LTE, WiMax and obviously we are keen to play any role that NBN would like us to play.

"It would a very big event for Huawei in Australia, but our future is not dependent on an NBN win.”

The Australian board of directors is set to be announced in the next six to eight weeks, with Mitchell saying that the strategy was part of an ongoing effort to increase the number of local staff members.

“We have 400 staff, increasing to 600 staff this year by the end of 2011,” he said. “At the moment we have an 80 per cent localisation rate and we want to increase this to 90 per cent.”

Despite its intention to hire additional staff, Mitchell said the company faced a challenge due to a perceived shortfall in fibre-related skills and expertise.

“One of the areas that we’re finding we have a shortfall is staff with next generation technology,” he said. “That’s why we’re making a commitment in training 2000 students in next generation technology and have the option of employing those as staff”

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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