Comms chips

Huawei Router Prez Gets HiSilicon Job

Jeffrey Gao, the president of Huawei's router business, is now general manager of HiSilicon, the Chinese equipment giant's semiconductor business, after assuming new responsibilities in March this year, according to an update posted on his LinkedIn profile.

Gao has not given up his role as president of Huawei's router and carrier Ethernet product line, according to LinkedIn, even though he has stepped into a senior role at one of Huawei's most interesting units.

HiSilicon manufactures chips used in many of Huawei's consumer devices and is increasingly positioning itself as an alternative to the likes of Qualcomm and Nvidia, a maker of graphics processing units, amid a clash with the US administration.

Huawei's opponents in the West say they are worried about the Chinese government's influence over the company and the possibility its products could include "backdoors" for Chinese spies. In recent weeks, Huawei's name has been added to a trade blacklist -- the so-called Entity List -- that prevents US companies from selling products to the firm without a special license.

The move means Huawei may no longer be able to obtain some of the valuable components used in network products. It also threatens the existence of smaller US component vendors that relied heavily on sales to Huawei.

While Huawei insists it would never hand information to the Chinese government -- and points to the lack of evidence about spyware -- it began stockpiling components last year in readiness for possible trade sanctions.

Striving to be more self-reliant, it has also ramped up spending on research and development and is channeling additional funds into HiSilicon.

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He Tingbo, HiSilicon's boss, sent an internal memo in May alluding to those plans, according to the UK's Financial Times newspaper, which claimed to have seen a copy of the memo.

"All the spare tyres we have built have turned to Plan A overnight," she is said to have written cryptically. "Today, the circle of destiny turns to this extreme and dark moment, the Superpower has mercilessly interrupted the technical and industrial system of global co-operation, made the most insane decision, put Huawei into the Entity list with no founded basis."

Gao's exact responsibilities at HiSilicon remain unclear, but he took up his role as president of the router business in May 2017 after a two-year stint as president of Huawei's transmission product line.

Light Reading last caught up with him a year ago at a conference in Paris, where he said the company's latest networking solutions would allow telcos to operate with just a fraction of their current technical workforce.

Staff numbers across major telcos have continued to fall since then, with Three UK -- a major Huawei customer -- recently announcing plans to cut two thirds of technology and operations jobs.

— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading

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