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[WATCH] Telecoms giant Huawei signs MoU with Malta to test 5G

Sai Mizzi speaks of her seminal role to secure the understanding with Huawei in the past months • "Malta is open for business" - Joseph Muscat

Martina Borg
14 July 2015, 3:16pm
Last updated on 14 July 2015, 6:27pm
Sai Mizzi Liang on trade envoy role • Video by Ray Attard
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maltese government research and develop technologies in the country.

The MoU includes a commitment by Huawei to start testing 5G; which is over twice as fast as 3G and makes connectivity systems easier. The understanding also implies that the company will help the country develop its digital Malta strategy.

The strategy includes a nationwide fibre-to-home project and fibre wire connectivity to other countries aside from Sicily.

Gaming Authority executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri
Gaming Authority executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri, tasked by the government to follow the project, said the agreement will not lead to the duplication of services. “Huawei looked forward to partnering with local companies according to the way the project developed at the beginning.”

Cuschieri explained that 5G is not commercially available to the public anywhere in the world, and that developments in the technology could put Malta at the forefront.

The company will be operating from Smart City with a handful of existing employees transferring to Malta, but further expansion is not excluded. "It is also not excluded that the company will employ at least one Maltese person to work as a business director or in another important post,” Cuschieri said.

The tech giant ranked 285th in Fortune 500 and it employs some 170, 000 people in over 140 countries worldwide.

“The company’s foray into Malta is particularly significant even just for bringing the country to its attention,” Cuschieri said, adding that this could also provide unique education and employment opportunities for future generations.

“Malta is also seen as a unique vehicle to test new technology due to its size,” Cuschieri added.

Earlier this month, Huawei formalised its cooperation with Europe's 5G-PPP (public-private partnership), announcing the projects it will be working on under the project. Earlier this year, Europe's digital commissioner Gunther Oettinger reiterated a grand vision for 5G that would include Chinese investment.

The 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership, in short 5G PPP, has been initiated by the EU Commission and industry manufacturers, telecommunications operators, service providers, SMEs and researchers. The 5G PPP will deliver solutions, architectures, technologies and standards for the ubiquitous next generation communication infrastructures of the coming decade.

Malta is open for business and ready to test new frontiers - Joseph Muscat

Speaking ahead of the signing of the memorandum, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that this agreement showed that the government was willing to take Malta to new directions.

Talking about the sheer magnitude of the company in question, Muscat joked that the income of the company was such that it could have easily bailed out Greece without needing to join forces with any other countries.

He added that the positive economic outlook comes on the heels of investments in various sectors like education, health and technology. He explained that the company would also lead to new opportunities to students wanting to work in an ICT environment.

"This government takes pride in foreign investment and what you see today is just the beginning," he said stressing the government's pro business stance.

The government’s special investment envoy to China, Sai Mizzi Liang addressed those gathered and made a humorous reference to the allegations made about her whereabouts and work.

“You have finally found me,” she said, going on to explain her crucial role in the agreements

She explained that her job was to bring technology and expertise to Malta from a country that is so distant from our own.

“My commitment is to give Malta the strongest voice in Asia,” she said explaining that during the previous year she had helped to arrange meetings between China and Malta.

She said that Huawei is one of the largest ICT companies around the world and that the MoU with Malta was the first the company was signing.

“This will make Malta the centre of Mediterranean technology hub even through the creation of a data recovery centre,” she said.

She added that the investment would lead to more employment and education opportunities as well as a stronger economy.

"It is in our interest to have good relations with China, both for its economy, technology and tourism," she said stressing how these investments would create better opportunities for Malta.

Huawei Italy CEO Edward Chan said that the agreement today marked a new venture both for the company and for the country.

“We want to be responsible citizens here and we will contribute and continue to develop new technology for the country,” Chan said.

Competitive growth parliamentary secretary Jose Herrera, whose secretariat was instrumental in agreements and discussions, said that Huawei recognizes the needs and capacities that the country has to offer.

Martina Borg focuses on lifestyle and society issues
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