Huawei joins Ottawa-based CENGN, extends Carleton 5G partnership

Meanwhile, Ritch Dusome is replaced as CENGN chief executive
CENGN
CENGN chief executive Ritch Dusome, right, and Boris Mimeur, director of engineering and operations. (Photo by Craig Lord)

Huawei Canada is reaffirming its 5G confidence in Ottawa, as the Chinese telecom firm announced today it would join the CENGN consortium and extend its 5G research partnership with Carleton University.

The moves were announced as part of a trade mission to China that featured Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Invest Ottawa CEO Michael Tremblay and Richard Waterhouse, CENGN’s vice-president of business development and marketing. The delegation met with Huawei executives at the firm’s global headquarters in Shenzen on Friday.

Jersey
From left, Invest Ottawa CEO Michael Tremblay, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ken Hu, rotating CEO and deputy chairman of Huawei Technologies and Richard Waterhoue, CENGN vice-president of business development and marketing.

Huawei has put significant capital behind its 5G partnerships with the province. Last year, the firm announced it would spend up to $303 million in Ontario R&D over the next five years, and stated in a release today that the firm spent $170 million in Canada this year alone.

Ontario has given back to Huawei as well, last year providing $16 million to the firm through the province’s Jobs and Prosperity Fund.

More than 700 people work at Huawei’s facilities across the province in Ottawa, Waterloo and Markham, according to the Ontario government. As of March 2016, roughly 250 employees worked in the firm’s Kanata outpost, though that number is expected to have increased.

"Ontario has one of the most diverse and advanced ICT ecosystems in the world," said Huawei rotating CEO Ken Hu in a statement.

"The ability to work with world-class universities, access to top talent, and partners that are investing in new technologies reflects our continued commitment to the province.”

Changes at CENGN

Huawei’s addition isn’t the only recent change at CENGN. Ritch Dusome is no longer the CEO of the organization, with Robert Fitts taking on the role in the interim.

When asked about Mr. Dusome’s removal, an email from a CENGN spokesperson said only that he is no longer CEO and will not be returning to the organization.

“However, his passion for the company will be missed as we have grown quite strong under his leadership over the past three years,” the statement concluded.

Mr. Dusome was president and CEO of CENGN since 2014. Prior to that, he had worked in the telecom industry for more than two decades at companies such as Cisco, and as a network analyst with Bell and TD Bank.

His interim replacement, Mr. Fitts, is the director of corporate development at EXFO. He has also had decades of experience in the telecom industry, spending 22 years as executive vice-president with Consultronics before it was acquired by EXFO in 2006.

CENGN acts as a consortium of multinational telecom firms, startups, researchers and students with the goal of collaborating to improve Canada’s position in developing and commercializing next-generation networks. The centre counts Bell, Rogers, Telus, Mitel, Nokia and Invest Ottawa as members, among others.

"We are excited about the opportunity to work with CENGN and our operator partners ... to develop programs aimed at identifying some of the challenges that will exist with the deployment of 5G technology" said Huawei Canada president Steve Lu in a statement.

"As we develop connective solutions for automated vehicles, smart cities and other IoT applications, the ability to work with CENGN, Canadian operators and SMEs to address issues of data integrity, the security of IoT devices, and the networks that enable this technology, will be critical."

CENGN received a $63 million grant from the Ontario government earlier this year to develop a communications network across the province’s 18 innovation centres.