Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Huawei '18 months ahead' in 4G - Telecom

Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Huawei is "at least 18 months ahead" of other technology providers, said Telecom when announcing today it had chosen the Chinese company to roll out its 4G mobile network.

Telecom's 4G mobile services will go live in Auckland in October and in Wellington and Christchurch by Christmas, the company said today.

During a briefing this afternoon Telecom said that 60 per cent of Auckland would be covered by this time and "significant portion" of the country's next two biggest cities.

One hundred per cent of these centres would have 4G services by the middle of next year.

4G services allow users to stream videos, download and upload files and browse mobile internet much faster than over existing networks.

Telecom could give no details on its pricing or 4G data plans during the briefing today and said this would be announced closer to launch.

Both Huawei and Alcatel Lucent - the builder of Telecom's XT network which was dogged with technical problems when it launched in 2009 - had been trialing 4G services with Telecom.

But today the Chinese telco was selected for the 4G rollout in what Telecom's chief technology officer David Havercroft said "was a big change" for the company.

"[We're] very very impressed with Huawei's credentials," Havercroft said.

"They have over 73 working LTE networks around the world and in additional to that and what most impressed us was over 70,000 engineers working in R and D [research and development]. That's an absolutely phenomenal commitment to innovation. Our assessment is that Huawei is at least 18 months ahead of all other technology providers in this space. We're very very proud to sign this contract," he said.

The Shenzhen-based company courted attention in New Zealand last March after it was revealed Australia had banned Huawei from tendering for its broadband network because of concerns about potential cyber attacks.

Later that year, international media reports sounded alarmist messages over Huawei's rise to dominance in telecommunications markets. The Economist reported that security experts feared Huawei's network equipment "could be used by China's spooks to eavesdrop on sensitive communications, or that it might contain 'kill switches' which would allow China to disable the systems involved in the event of a conflict".

Telecom said it had a full test and certification programme lined up for the 4G rollout, but this would be the same that would have be done with any other provider.

A Huawei spokesperson said today that it would likely hire more staff as a result of the contract with Telecom but could not give details on any numbers.

Huawei was founded in China in 1987 and has been in New Zealand since 2005. It employs around 120 staff locally, 90 per cent of whom are New Zealanders. It's technology is the cornerstone of 2degrees' mobile network and Vodafone's fixed-line network.

- NZ Herald

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