Huawei plans U.S. charm offensive with ad campaign, hiring spree

In an attempt to burnish its image in the U.S., Huawei will launch its first U.S.-based advertising campaign and will add 500 new workers in the country this year.

The Chinese vendor, which has had a rocky relationship with the U.S. government and has yet to secure an infrastructure deal with a Tier 1 carrier, said the moves highlight the growth Huawei has seen in its U.S. mobile devices business. The company's devices are sold by both MetroPCS (NASDAQ:PCS) and Leap Wireless' (NASDAQ:LEAP) Cricket, and more than half of Huawei's 2010 U.S. revenues came from devices.

The ads, which will run later this year, will serve to highlight Huawei's profile in a market that it is desperate to crack into, for both devices and network equipment, as it grows its overseas business. "Huawei is the No. 2 largest telecom infrastructure provider on the planet," Bill Plummer, the company's vice president of external affairs, told Forbes in an interview. "We're realizing there's no harm in being recognized."

Huawei currently counts 1,100 U.S. employees, and Plummer said the company will hire 500 more by the end of the year, with about half of those working on research and development.

Huawei has been making entreaties to the U.S. market in an effort to combat what it says are misconceptions about the company's corporate structure and alleged ties to the Chinese government and military. In a bid to bolster transparency, Huawei began providing more information on its board, which has 13 members. And, in an extensive open letter posted on the company's website in February, Ken Hu, Huawei's deputy chairman, directly addressed questions over Huawei's ties to the Chinese government and military, and invited the U.S. government to open an investigation into any security concerns it may have with the company.  

ZTE, Huawei's smaller Chinese rival, also is working to strengthen its presence in the U.S. market. ZTE launched a new website in March dedicated to the U.S. market. The site includes information on mobile device support, channel partner opportunities and information about ZTE and its U.S. subsidiary

For more:
- see this Forbes article

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