The China-based company says the new Markham, Ont., office, along with its recently announced Joint Innovation Centre, will help it become more widely known to Canadian IT organizations. Plus, Huawei strikes a deal with Wind Mobile

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Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. officially opened a Canadian headquarters on Tuesday, which it said will help achieve its goal to become a stronger cloud services integrator for its Canadian partners.

The new Markham, Ont., facility will house the company’s sales and marketing teams, in addition to a “state-of-the-art” testing lab. The headquarters launch comes just one day after the networking company signed a deal with both Bell Canada Enterprises Inc. and Telus Corp. to build and maintain a Joint Innovation Centre in a location to be determined later.

Huawei said that both announcements further show its commitment to becoming a bigger player in Canada, a mission that started with last April when the company opened its first Canadian research and development plant in Ottawa. The firm said it currently has 250 employees in Ottawa and Markham, with a pledge to invest $67 million in Canadian R&D over the next five years.

Tony Schultz, vice-president of delivery and service at Huawei’s new Canadian office, said the opening of the Markham-based HQ will signal to customers and partners that the Huawei is “here to stay” in Canada.

“We want to establish a credible presence in Canada and the U.S.,” he said, referring to North America as the last untapped market for Huawei. “You can’t ignore the largest market in the world.”

While the company sits second behind Sweden-based Ericsson in the mobile network gear market, according to a recent Dell’Oro research report, Huawei had no footprint in Canada until 2008. Over the last three years, it has helped Bell and Telus deploy some of its mobile network, but now the company also wants to focus on solutions that can help enterprise IT shops.

Huawei’s new cloud computing strategy involves working with its carrier partners to bring expand telecommunication services in the cloud, said John Roese, senior vice-president of Huawei’s North American research and development centre in Santa Clara, Calif.

He said that with carriers looking for ways to exploit the advantages of broadband connectivity and organizations looking to bring together and deploy composite cloud services and mashups, the opportunity to tackle both these goals will be high on the company’s list of Canadian priorities.

Roese said that instead of acting as their own system integrators, deploying a variety of one-off cloud apps or services, organizations should ideally be able to work with their carriers to integrate all of their cloud services, picking and choosing which ones to deploy.

“We’re looking at how to make networking infrastructure ready for IT,” Roese said. With the lines of IT being blurred among consumer, enterprise, and telecom solutions, he said, the plan will entail using the “vehicle of pervasive broadband” as the infrastructure.

Roese added that he is particularly excited to see Huawei expand its Canadian presence in Markham and Ottawa because of the large talent pool available following the break up of Nortel. The Huawei executive most recently served as Nortel’s Chief Technology Officer in 2008.

“I have an affinity toward Canadian R&D,” he said. “Some of this talent pool worked for me in the past.”

Mark Tauschek, a research director with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., said that Huawei’s line of thinking makes sense because of the large gap that Nortel’s bankruptcy has left.

“Nortel used to supply a lot of gear to telecom providers and nobody has really come into Canada to fill that hole,” he said.

“Huawei is quite savvy in seeing an opportunity to capitalize on Nortel’s demise.”

In addition to the company’s Innovation Centre and its cloud computing strategy, Huawei also announced a new agreement with Wind Mobile Inc.

The company said Wind will be the first Canadian carrier to commercially launch Wide Band AMR, or HD Voice, to its customers. Huawei said subscribers with handsets that support the service will get enhanced voice frequency “ranging from 200-3400Hz to 50-7000Hz.”

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