The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei entered Georgia in 2001 and has since then established meaningful partnerships with the local mobile networking companies. The company offers innovative products to the Georgian consumers each year, having launched its latest mobile phone Honor 6 in Tbilisi last week.
Not everyone in Georgia knows that, apart from smartphones, Huawei’s main forte lies in its telecommunications equipment services – the company technologically sustains local mobile providers, such as MagtiCom, Geocell, Mobitel and Silknet’s network coverage. Today the company plays a crucial role in implementing the latest 4G network in Georgia, which will completely transform the telecom picture of the country in the future.
CBW met with Huawei’s representative in Georgia Marco Xu in the company’s Tbilisi office on a Wednesday afternoon. As we entered the office we were surprised by the general quietness and calm atmosphere while the employees were enjoining their afternoon nap. Turns out, post-lunch afternoon siestas are a Chinese workday ritual that the Georgian employees of Huawei share with their colleagues around the world.
We spent some time talking with Marco about Huawei’s services and the company’s prospective on the Georgian market. For more details read our interview with Marco below:
– What is your take on the state of telecommunications market in Georgia today? Does it have its own specificities, in your opinion?
– I’ve been working in the telecommunications industry for more than 13 years. Before coming here I worked in Europe for almost 9 years. I see the Georgian telecommunications market as quite open, with a fair competition compared to other former CIS countries, both in mobile services and fixed broadband Internet at home and IP-TV.
One challenge that this “openness” of the market poses is the creation of the so-called “Grey Market,” which forms as a result of importing cheap mobile devices from other countries – mostly, Dubai. Some of these devices are not built to operate on the mobile frequency that is the standard in Georgia, so they jeopardize our company’s services.
“It is very important that consumers buy mobile devices customized for Georgian market and from authorized dealers only.”
– What is the state of implementing the 4G network in Georgia?
– All mobile operators right now are actively promoting the development of the 4G network in Georgia. The equipment is already being built, but none of the local mobile operators have the 4G network license yet. This is a very important question.
“Development of the 4G network would enable full wireless coverage of the Georgian villages.”
4G is much faster than 3G. This network is already implemented worldwide. 4G will be extremely necessary for the Georgian consumers to experience fast mobile Internet on their smartphones. I see bright future of 4G in Georgia, especially for the rural coverage of Georgia.
– So 4G network could potentially stimulate the rural coverage of Georgia?
– Your country’s economy minister and also GNCC were talking about this issue. I think the rural coverage of Georgia in terms of mobile and home Internet is still not good enough. Your country has a lot of mountains and remote villages, which makes good network coverage a complicated matter.
Huawei can help in this regard. I was talking with GNCC (Georgian National Communication Commission) last week and they asked my opinion about the future of rural coverage of Georgia. This is a common issue, not just here, but also in Europe and China. These countries work on improving their status quo. For instance, in Europe they have the 2020 plan coverage of villages. Similar programs exist in China.
– When such a large telecommunications equipment and services company as Huawei enters a small market like Georgia, questions regarding the training and developing of the local human resources arise. Does Huawei have a Research and Development team in Georgia?
– We are a global company with more than 136 offices around the world — we cover almost all countries. One of them is Georgia. Huawei’s last year’s net revenue globally reached 39 billion USD and this year expectations are 45 billion dollars. We could be easily recruiting people globally, and yet, you can see that most people in our office — 75% — are Georgians. Collaboration and localization is our strategy.
“We see Georgian people as very talented and also highly educated, especially in the IT industry.”
I believe this is a very good basis to stimulate more international companies to come here and invest. We also give trainings to our employees. For example, Huawei is cooperating with Tbilisi Technological University. Every year we have internships and some of successful students have a chance to become members of our team. Now, for example, we are supporting Tbilisi State University to open Chinese culture and language classroom for Georgian students
– How did Huawei build a successful customer base in Georgia? How does the company go about marketing its business here?
– Huawei recently entered the World’s Top 100 companies ranking. We are very proud of this achievement and think that the best combination of quality and price made this possible.
Our product branding focuses on young people mainly, since they are the ones using smartphones and mobile services the most. Huawei is a very innovative brand that is not afraid to try out new things. We want to be role models for exactly such young people who lead this country, have new ideas and are brave to make changes. We want to encourage young people to be innovative.