Huawei chief warns of growing digital divide

Ken Hu, Huawei Rotating Chairman

Huawei rotating chairman Ken Hu (pictured) has stated that Covid-19 (coronavirus) has exposed weaknesses in communications infrastructure across the world, and warned a lack of access to 5G services could widen the digital divide.

In a keynote, he explained changing behaviours caused by lockdown restrictions had negative and positive impacts worldwide. For example, while bankruptcies of small enterprises spiked, data traffic surged as much as 70 per cent in some areas.

“Covid-19 brought about unprecedented disruption for the whole of mankind. Yet, we have accelerated the process of the digitalisation and intelligent transformation, with more and more companies embracing digital technologies,” Hu said

He explained traffic distribution changed dramatically. Before the pandemic, there were distinct peak and low periods. “Now there is no clear line between the two”, with the lines also blurred between indoor and outdoor, and urban and rural usage.

“The distribution is becoming more even than before,” he said, noting this requires network coverage to be better balanced.

He noted the gap to countries which are slower to deploy 5G networks and services would expand as the technology advances and spreads.

Hu said 2020 was not an easy year for Huawei due to the pandemic and “we were confronted by some extraordinary difficulties”, but managed to record relatively stable results in line with its original guidance on revenue and profitability.

But he added 2020 was also a year of learning and “brings a lot of possibilities for us in future”.


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