By opening a North American research and development hub in Bridgewater late last month, Chinese telecom company Huawei is trying to show the major communications providers that, in addition to global success, they have the local knowledge to compete.
Miguel Dajer, vice president of wireless R&D for North America, said the company currently serves 45 of the top 50 telecommunications operators in the world — but U.S. providers are more sophisticated and aggressive, and want vendors to have local knowledge.
Dajer, who spent 25 years at Alcatel-Lucent before joining Huawei last year, said Huawei is making inroads with the four major U.S. telcom providers — Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T — and competing with companies like Ericsson and Lucent is becoming easier as the company pulls in local talent.
“We have really made an effort to bring management talent that are locals … bringing experts from other companies in the industry that understand how to run businesses and do business in the U.S., and that has been a big change for wireless for sure,” Dajer said. “It’s a big difference in front of our customers, also. The customers see the change, and we’re looking more and more like a true multinational with a U.S. presence.”
Huawei started a New Jersey office in 2008 with four employees, but now has more than 110 in state, and is looking to increase R&D hiring by 50 percent in the next three years.
Reputation for competition
While at Lucent, Dajer ran 4G trials for Verizon and AT&T, and competed head-to-head with Huawei. He said during that time, he was concerned with competing against Huawei, because the company was known for being aggressive.
“These operators know Huawei is a player, and they would like to understand better the products and see how they might be different from an Alcatel-Lucent or an Ericsson could provide.”
The Bridgewater office has three main areas of R&D, with the largest being radio frequency. Dajer said his team is constantly looking for hardware and algorithms to make transmission more efficient.
Another team focuses on customer solutions, specifically, issues like “hot spots” where a network can become congested because of a large number of people in one place trying to send information.
The other large focus is on network simulations; Dajer said a team of engineers works with operators to predict traffic models for up to three years in advance. The three teams work together for customers, preparing to address future needs, identifying solutions to issues and then creating the hardware to fit the solution.
While Dajer said increasing U.S. sales by breaking in with top-level providers is an important goal, from his perspective, “being recognized in the U.S. as an organization that is truly there to support a customer and has a world-class team in place” also is key.
“We’re very new, and we’re just making inroads within Huawei to be known as a world-class team that can deliver,” Dajer added. “We need to prove ourselves like anyone else. Our goal is by the end of 2012, we’re going to be in that position.”