THE WRAP: Huawei banned in Australia; ZTE profit slumps
It was the week that saw Huawei banned from Australia’s NBN, as Telenor threatened to sue India and a consortium revealed environmentally friendly FTTH technology.
The week got off to a bad start for Chinese telecom vendor Huawei Technologies, which was reportedly excluded from tendering for projects rolling out Australia's national broadband network (NBN).
According to The Australian Financial Review the government attorney-general's office banned Huawei from participating in NBN contracts due to security concerns. Huawei has hinted that it may seek intervention by the Chinese government if the ban is not lifted.
Rival vendor ZTE also had a rough week, after reports surfaced that it had provided the Iranian government with a telephony and internet surveillance system under a $130 million (€97 million) contract awarded in December 2010. ZTE said it “provided standard communications and network solutions to Iran on a small scale”, and that it hasn’t sought any new customers in the country since last year.
Also, ZTE reported a 36.6% decline in 2011 net profit as heavy R&D and marketing spending outweighed a 23.4% gain in revenue.
It was also the week in which Telenor said it was seeking damages from the Indian government following the cancellation of 2G licenses held by Indian joint venture Uninor.
While Telenor said it hasn’t specified a target amount, the Times of India reported the carrier is seeking $14 billion in damages and threatened to take the government to international arbitration. Telenor is the second company to seek compensation for cancelled licenses – Russia's Sistema invoked the provisions of a treaty between India and Russia last month to recover some of the investment sunk into its own 2G joint venture, Sistema Shyam.
One company that isn’t bailing from an Indian joint venture this week is NTT DoCoMo, which is reportedly considering increasing its 26% stake in Tata Teleservices using a call option. However, India's Financial Express reports that Tata Teleservices is said to be considering mounting an offer to buy back DoCoMo's stake in the company.
Meanwhile, India’s telecoms-related legal woes aren’t over yet – a parliamentary panel reportedly took the Department of Telecom to task this week, claiming that there are now around 500 illegal telecom networks operating in various parts of the country, and that the DoT has taken a cavalier attitude to the situation.
In other news this week, Nokia unveiled its first Windows Phone smartphone tailored for the Chinese market, in collaboration with China Telecom: the CDMA Lumia 800C, which will hit the shelves next month for 3,599 yuan (€428) contract free.
In cloud news for the week, China Telecom said its internet data center revenues jumped 34.8% year-on-year in 2011, thanks to the strong growth of its cloud services; Europe’s digital agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes called for a coordinated cloud policy to maximize potential income from the technology; and Gartner predicted that global SaaS sales will hit $14.5 billion this year, up almost 18% year-on-year, fueled by demand from horizontal applications with common processes, virtual workforces, and Web 2.0 activities.
This week’s Next Big Green Thing: GreenTouch unveiled Bit-Interleaved Passive Optical Network (Bi-PON) technology, which enables FTTH networks to reduce their carbon footprint by a factor of 30. GreenTouch is a consortium of tech firms, academic and non-governmental research experts, including Alcatel-Lucent, China Mobile, Samsung, Swisscom and Huawei.
And finally, it was the week in which Nokia revealed that SMS is still the most popular method of mobile communication, ahead of e-mail and good old-fashioned voice.
A consumer survey by the vendor also revealed that subscribers prefer cellular communications over fixed-line alternatives and even VoIP services, and that video calling remains a niche service.