Is Huawei facing global scrutiny over the security of its 5G gear? Hard to tell with the strong results the telecommunications giant saw in 2018, based on its 155-page annual report released Friday.
Despite troubles that began with an August ban of its equipment by the US government, Huawei revenue grew 19.5% year-on-year to RMB 721.2 billion (around $107.3 billion) in 2018. Net profits surged 25.1% year-on-year to RMB 59.3 billion.
The company’s sales revenue from its consumer business grew 45.1% during the year to RMB 348.9 billion. As a result of a US-led boycott of its 5G equipment over security concerns, Huawei’s carrier business weakened 1.9% to RMB 294 billion, compared with a 2.5% increase the year before. As of Friday, three countries including the US, Australia, and New Zealand have banned Huawei from providing equipment for their 5G networks. A report issued Thursday by a UK government agency saying Huawei has done little to address previously identified security flaws added fresh concerns to the embattled telecom equipment maker.
Huawei invested RMB 101.5 billion, or 14.1% of its sales revenue, in research and development, ranking fifth globally in “The 2018 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard,” the report said. The Shenzhen-based firm owned 87,805 patents as of end-2018, of which 11,152 were granted in the US. “Our technological patents are valuable to the information societies worldwide, including the United States,” Huawei stated in the report. Huawei’s patent filings in the US, like other Chinese tech and telecom companies, reflect steep growth in research and development investments amid a government-led push for global technological leadership.
Huawei has secured over 30 commercial 5G contracts with global telecoms operators up to the end of February 2019, with more than 40,000 5G base stations being shipped to all over the world.
“Through heavy, consistent investment in 5G innovation, alongside large-scale commercial deployment, Huawei is committed to building the world’s best network connections,” said Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping at the release of the annual report. Huawei will continue to strictly comply with all relevant standards to build secure, trustworthy, and high-quality products throughout this process, Guo added, a nod to the ongoing battle for its reputation.
The company’s enterprise business revenue grew 23.8% to RMB 74.4 billion by providing services like cloud storage, big data, and solutions for the internet of things (IoT).