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Why European telecoms companies need the best tech at the best price



Telecommunications firms have to be at the forefront of innovation, or risk becoming irrelevant as technology moves on. When leading Hungarian telecoms firm 4iG wanted to stay one step ahead by providing cloud-based services for companies, the obvious answer was to strengthen its existing partnership with Huawei. 

"We have a longstanding relationship - we started our cooperation in mobile infrastructure," 4iG chairman Gellert Jaszai tells CGTN. "What we signed with them some months ago was about building the 5G infrastructure, the digitization of Hungary. This will allow us to offer new services and to create new areas for our clients, existing customers, and new customers." 

For Jaszai, it's a way of leveraging and improving the existing, increasingly strong, ties between the two countries. 

"The Chinese are Hungary's biggest trading partner, and last year, 380 Chinese companies already had businesses in Hungary," he says. "So it's a new market for us because it's based on one of the most innovative and best technologies. Whoever can provide them with cloud-based services will be able to provide these companies' services in data centers and cloud-based applications."


Technological challenges 

The European Commission has been critical about Hungary strengthening ties with China, and while Jaszai is careful not to offend - "I wouldn't take positions on political issues" - he sees things very clearly from the commercial angle. 

"If you see it from the business side, it's a totally different approach," he says. "What's most important is being able to provide the best services for our customers - if I have the best technology at a very competitive price. 

4iG chairman Gellert Jaszai says firms want the best tech at the price. /CGTN
4iG chairman Gellert Jaszai says firms want the best tech at the price. /CGTN

4iG chairman Gellert Jaszai says firms want the best tech at the price. /CGTN

"Interestingly, Hungary is not the only country working with China on this type of technology," he notes. "The biggest open cloud-based service data centers in Germany are based on Huawei technology or in 5G infrastructures. The biggest European telecommunication players, like Vodafone or Orange, are also using Chinese technology. Huawei still has more than 50 percent of the mobile infrastructure market in Europe."


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That infrastructure has to keep improving, not just for 4iG but for all companies. For Jaszai, the fragmentation of the fiercely competitive European market can cause problems with implementing the rolling improvements necessary with fast-moving technology. 

"In Europe, you have hundreds of telecommunication operators for 3 to 400 million customers," he says, "while in China there are three telecommunication operators for 1.5 billion customers, or in the U.S. there are three telecommunication operators for 400 million. It's a huge disadvantage for Europe in general. 

"The partnership with Huawei and the relation between the two countries are very important. We are a bridge between China and Europe, and I think it's very important that these ecosystems have to stay connected."


The race to space and AI 

Improving technology means that telecoms firms need no longer restrain themselves to terrestrial ambitions: many are looking towards space. Earlier in May, laying the foundation stone for a new aerospace manufacturing center, Hungary's National Economy Minister Marton Nagy predicted the first Hungarian satellite could be launched by 2027. 

"The space industry is a multi-billion business - it's huge, and in three to five years it will triple its volume," says Jaszai. "Compared to 10 or 20 years ago, when a communications satellite weighed up to two tonnes, now a satellite can be 100 to 400 kilograms and can be more efficient than a two-tonne satellite."

Jaszai interviewed by CGTN's Pablo Gutierrez. /CGTN
Jaszai interviewed by CGTN's Pablo Gutierrez. /CGTN

Jaszai interviewed by CGTN's Pablo Gutierrez. /CGTN

This shrinking technology presents an opportunity that 4iG has been quick to investigate, with the 4,000-square-meter facility Nagy opened in Martonvasar, in Fejer county.  It was a groundbreaking ceremony in more ways than one.

"It's the first not just Hungarian, but Central European, space manufacturing center," says Jaszai, "which will be able not just to manufacture satellites up to 400 kilograms, but also assembling and testing, integrating and testing these satellites."

The other hot-button topic in any modern conversation about technology is AI. 

"It's revolutionary, and not just in Hungary - it has an impact on the telecommunications/IT space globally," says Jaszai, who says the recent link-up on cloud services also covers potential developments in AI. 

"We agreed to jointly invest into an innovation center to research which areas AI could be the best for telecommunication in uniting infrastructure. And we see very important areas where we can use AI for improving customer services, improving efficiency, cybersecurity."


Interview by Pablo Gutierrez

Why European telecoms companies need the best tech at the best price

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