Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G

People queue outside a newly opened Huawei flagship store in Shenzhen in China’s southern Guangdong province. (AFP)
Updated 30 September 2019

Russia rolls out the red carpet for Huawei over 5G

  • The smartphone company plans to lead in the development of 6G in future, says top official

MOSCOW: While the US banned Huawei for alleged espionage and asked its allies to do the same, Moscow has rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese tech company, letting it develop 5G networks in Russia.

Analysts say the move is as much a show of solidarity with Beijing against the US as it is a drive to bring ultra high-speed internet to Russian tech users.

This month, Huawei opened its first 5G test zone in Moscow in partnership Russian operator MTS, with a view to rolling out the service to the rest of the capital.

Moscow authorities say the network will become part of the city’s normal infrastructure within the next few years.

A pioneer in telecoms networks compared to many Western countries, Russia plans to deploy 5G in all of its main cities by 2024.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Russia in June — at the height of Washington’s conflict with Huawei — Russia’s main operator MTS signed a contract with the Chinese company.

At the inauguration of the 5G zone in Moscow, the CEO of Russia’s branch of Huawei Zhao Lei praised the company’s activities in the country.

“We have been working in Russia for 22 years. Thanks to our partners, we live well here,” he said. He added that Huawei, considered a world leader in 5G technology, plans to “lead in the development of 6G” in the future.

Huawei is also the world’s second-largest smartphone company. It did not respond to AFP’s interview requests. A source in Russia’s 5G research community said Huawei is the biggest investor in the development of mobile technologies in Russia, with “the largest research laboratory of all operators” in Moscow.

According to the Vedomosti business daily, Huawei currently employs 400 people in Moscow and 150 in Saint Petersburg in mobile research and development. It aims to employ 500 more people by the end of 2019 and 1,000 more over five years.

Experts said Russia’s welcome of Huawei does not mean the Chinese company is alone in the race for developing 5G in Russia.

“Russian operators are all collaborating with multiple 5G equipment vendors, Huawei included. We do not see any clear 5G leaders in the network deployment in Russia,” said Michela Landoni, an analyst at Fitch Solutions. She said operators prefer this approach to avoid being “reliant on one specific vendor” and to protect themselves against cyber threats.

The Tele2 operator was the first to launch 5G in Russia with Sweden’s Ericsson in August, on Moscow’s main Tverskaya street.

In the midst of a trade war and technological rivalry with China, the US has threatened to cut Huawei’s access to the US components and services it needs, such as the Android operating system that the company uses on its phones.

Russia then promptly stepped in to offer its Aurora operating system to the Chinese group.

If Android remains Huawei’s preferred choice, Landoni said Aurora could be a “short-term solution” for the group.

According to the analyst, Aurora could become a “stepping stone” in the development for Huawei’s own OS.


How DFW airport envisions post-COVID travel

Updated 6 min 50 sec ago

How DFW airport envisions post-COVID travel

  • The airport is working with American Airlines — whose home base is DFW — to roll out a self-check-in for luggage

CHICAGO: With COVID-19 ravaging the aviation industry, airlines and airports worldwide are reining in costs and halting new spending, except in one area: Reassuring pandemic-wary passengers about travel.

“Whatever the new normal ... it’s going to be more and more around self-service,” Sean Donohue, CEO of Dallas-Forth Worth International Airport (DFW), told Reuters in an interview.

The airport is working with American Airlines — whose home base is DFW — to roll out a self-check-in for luggage, and all of its restrooms will be entirely touchless by the end of July with technology developed by Infax Inc. They will have hands-free sinks, soap, flushing toilets, and paper towel dispensers, which will be equipped with sensors to alert workers when supplies are low.

“One of the biggest complaints airports receive are restrooms,” Donohue said.

Dallas is piloting three technology options for luggage check-ins: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS.

DFW has become the world’s busiest airport, according to figures from travel analytics firm Cirium, thanks in part to a strategy by large global carrier American to concentrate much of its pandemic flying through its Texas hub.

Last year DFW rolled out biometric boarding — where your face is your boarding pass — for international flights and is taking advantage of the lull in international traffic to work with US Customs and Border Protection to use the VeriScan technology for arriving passengers too, he said.

Delta Air Lines opened the first US biometric terminal in Atlanta in 2018, and some airports in Europe and Asia also use facial recognition technology. It has spurred some concerns, however, with a US government study finding racial bias in the technology and the European Union earlier this year considered banning it in public places over privacy concerns.

The Dallas airport is also testing new technology around better sanitization, beginning with ultraviolet technology that can kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.

But it has also deployed electrostatic foggers and hired a “hit team” of 150 people who are going through the terminals physically sanitizing high-touch areas.

“Technology is critical because it can be very efficient,” Donohue said, but customers “being able to visualize what’s happening is reassuring as well.”

DFW has invested millions of dollars above its cleaning and sanitation budget since the pandemic broke out, while suspending about $100 million of capital programs and reducing its second-half operating costs by about 20 percent as it addresses COVID-19’s steep hit to the industry, which only months ago was preparing for growth.