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Huawei Names US Lead, Reminds Us It's Still Here

Is Chinese vendor giant Huawei still paying attention to the US market, and, if so, how much? Is it business as usual for Huawei here, or is the company lying low, waiting for the US government's concerns about Huawei's alleged threat to national security to blow over?

No one really knows the answers for certain, but one thing is clear: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is paying enough attention to the US market that it has put a new man in charge of its US operations. The company elevated veteran carrier and enterprise markets executive Ming He into that role, based out of Huawei's US headquarters in Plano, Texas. (See He Heads Huawei US Operations.)

There isn't much to be gleaned from Huawei's statement on the move, out Wednesday, though here at Light Reading we are taking it as a sign that we should swing the dial on our giant "Huawei's US Ambitions Meter" from "Not-Paying-Much-Attention" to "Paying-A-Little-More-Attention." Presumably, Huawei wants him (He) to do more than sit at a desk in his hopefully well air conditioned Plano office and twiddle his thumbs.

Huawei picked an interesting time for this announcement, as the security controversy has not lost any steam, and actually may have picked up some recently. In March, documents supplied to The New York Times and Der Spiegel by Light Reading Hall of Famer Edward Snowden showed that the US National Security Agency spied on Huawei and the Chinese government. More recently, former NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander, in an interview with the Australian Financial Review, praised Australia's banning of Huawei from that country's National Broadband Network project.

On top of all that, Huawei made this announcement just days after the US alleged that members of the Chinese military hacked into the databases of a couple of US companies. We're not saying Huawei had anything to do with that, but it's the kind of thing that would have caused some companies in Huawei's position to put off a major personnel announcement in a market where it's at the center of a separate spying controversy.

Meanwhile, usually quiet Huawei Chairman Ren Zhengfei said recently in The Wall Street Journal that the US is a "great nation" and seemed to indicate that, despite current perceptions, Huawei is not giving up on the US market in the long run.

Again, nothing about Huawei's status relative to the US market ever seems too certain. We could very well find tomorrow that we need to swing our giant dial back again. I hope not -- my back is killing me.

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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