For most Queenslanders, the most challenging thing about this currently topical telecommunications company is how to say its name (it’s Wah Way – not too hard, but it does take a little practice!)
I expect that it is with a degree of bemusement and largely disinterest that Queenslanders view the media flurry and debate around Huawei and its bid to provide some of its technology and expertise for the role out of the nation’s 5G network. But we should be taking a much greater interest, as Queensland’s growth will be influenced by it.
It would something of a surprise for many Queenslanders to learn that Huawei is already a strong contributor to our State’s growth and community development.
They provide telecommunication equipment to Optus and Vodafone – including the gear that our phones connect to when we make a call. They invest as significant supporters of the Gold Coast Suns AFL team. Together with James Cook University in Cairns, they have launched a 5G equipment testing facility. This will see 5G inventions being flown into Cairns from all over the world to be tested to see if they meet 5G accreditation standards.
My experience with Huawei has been an interesting one. I first met them when establishing the Queensland Futures Institute and warmly welcomed them as one of our founding partners. Their support for the aims and values of the QFI – independent, apolitical thought-leadership to support Queensland’s growth – has been unwavering.
I was a guest of Huawei last month in China for the Gold Coast Suns versus Port Adelaide AFL game. And yes, business leaders travel as guests of companies the world-over. It improves cultural understanding, creates goodwill, grows business networks and builds new trade opportunities. Such exchanges should be promoted and encouraged for all our leaders – business, community, educators and politicians alike. The experience and learnings make them better leaders.
To the game – while its outcome could have been better (Port Adelaide won), I also had the opportunity to visit one of Huawei’s Research and Development (R&D) facilities in Shanghai. It simply has to be seen to be believed. One building houses 10,000 workers solely dedicated to R&D – all focused on developing and improving new telecommunications technology.
The breathtaking scale of Huawei’s operations sheets home why they are now producing world-leading telecommunications technology. And why as Queenslanders, we should take a keen interest in ensuring that we have access to this technology to support our economic and social growth.
As one of Australia’s most decentralised States, we are particularly reliant upon access to quality, reliable telecommunications infrastructure to bridge our vast distances and to connect our communities. Queenslander should expect and deserve the best quality telecommunications infrastructure and should engage in the current debate with this in mind.