ZTE

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ZTE Corporation
Formerly
Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment Corporation
Public
Traded asSZSE: 000063
SEHK763
ISINCNE000000TK5
CNE1000004Y2
IndustryTelecommunications equipment
Networking equipment
Founded1985; 35 years ago (1985) (as Zhongxing Semiconductor Co., Ltd.)
FounderHou Weigui [zh] (Chinese: 侯為貴; pinyin: Hóu Wéiguì)
Headquarters55 Hi-tech Road South
Shenzhen, Guangdong, China
518057
Area served
Worldwide
Key people
Yin Yimin (Chairman)
Zhao Xianming (President and Executive Director)[1]
ProductsMobile phones, smartphones, tablet computers, hardware, software and services to telecommunications service providers and enterprises
RevenueIncrease CN¥90.740 billion / US $13.2 billion (2019)
Increase CN¥7.55  billion (2019)
Increase CN¥5.49 billion (2019)
Total assetsIncrease CN¥141.202 billion (2019)
Total equityIncrease CN¥35.079 billion (2019)
OwnerZhongxingxin (30.34%); China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation
Number of employees
68,240 (2018)
SubsidiariesNubia Technology (49.9%)
ZTEsoft
Zonergy
Websitezte.com.cn
Footnotes / references
In consolidated financial statement;[1] shareholders' equity figure are excluding perpetual capital instrument
ZTE Corporation
Simplified Chinese中兴通讯股份有限公司
Traditional Chinese中興通訊股份有限公司
Literal meaningChina-Prosperity Communications Company Limited by Shares
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中兴通讯
Traditional Chinese中興通訊
Literal meaningChina-Prosperity Communications
Second alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中兴
Traditional Chinese中興
Literal meaningChina-Prosperity [or the word itself: resurgence]

ZTE Corporation is a Chinese technology company that specializes in telecommunication. Founded in 1985, ZTE is listed on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges. [2]

ZTE operates in three business units: carrier networks (54%), terminals (29%) and telecommunication (17%)(As on May 2016).[3] Their core are wireless, exchange, access, optical transmission, and data telecommunications gear; mobile phones; and telecommunications software.[4]

It also offers products that provide value-added services,[5] such as video on demand and streaming media.[6] ZTE primarily sold products under its own name, but it is also an OEM.[7] ZTE is one of the top five largest smartphone manufacturers in its home market.[8]

As with Huawei, the company has faced criticism in the United States over potential ties to the Chinese government that could enable surveillance. In 2017, ZTE was fined for illegally exporting U.S. technology to Iran and North Korea in violations of economic sanctions.[9] In April 2018, after the company failed to properly reprimand the employees involved, the U.S. Department of Commerce banned U.S. companies (semiconductors) from exporting to ZTE for seven years. The ban was lifted in July 2018 after ZTE replaced its senior management, and agreed to pay additional fines and establish an internal compliance team for 10 years.[10][11] In June 2020, the Federal Communications Commission designated ZTE a national security threat, thereby barring it from any U.S. subsidies.[12][13][14][15][16]

History[edit]

ZTE, initially founded as Zhongxing Semiconductor Co., Ltd in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in 1985, was incorporated by a group of investors associated with China's Ministry of Aerospace Industry.[17][18][19][20] In March 1993, Zhongxing Semiconductor changed its name to Zhongxing New Telecommunications Equipment Co., Ltd with capital of RMB 3 million, and created a new business model as a "state-owned and private-operating" economic entity. Ties to the state notwithstanding, the firm evolved into the publicly traded ZTE Corporation, having made an initial public offering (IPO) on the Shenzhen stock exchange in 1997 and another on the Hong Kong stock exchange in December 2004.[21]

While the company initially profited from domestic sales,[22] it vowed to use proceeds of its 2004 Hong Kong IPO to further expand R&D, overseas sales to developed nations, and overseas production.[23] Making headway in the international telecom market in 2006, it took 40% of new global orders for CDMA networks[24] topping the world CDMA equipment market by number of shipments.[25] That same year also saw ZTE find a customer in the Canadian Telus[26] [27]and membership in the Wi-Fi Alliance.[28] More customers in developed nations soon followed Telus's lead, and in 2007 ZTE sold to UK's Vodafone, Spain's Telefónica, and the Australian Telstra,[26] in addition to garnering the greatest number of CDMA contracts globally.[29] By 2008 ZTE had achieved a global customer base, with sales in 140 countries.[26]

By 2009, the company had become the third-largest vendor of GSM telecom equipment worldwide, and about 20% of all GSM gear sold throughout the world that year was ZTE branded.[30] As of 2011 it holds around 7% of the key LTE patents[31] and that same year launched the world's first smartphone with dual GPS/GLONASS navigation, MTS 945. ZTE claims to devote 10% of its annual revenue to research and development, producing patents and utility licenses at a rapid pace.[32][33] ZTE has filed 48,000 patents globally, with more than 13,000 granted. In two consecutive years (2011 and 2012), ZTE was granted the largest number of patent applications globally,[34] which is a first for a Chinese company.[35]

U.S. sanctions and import ban[edit]

In March 2017, ZTE pleaded guilty to illegally exporting U.S. technology to Iran and North Korea in violation of trade sanctions, and was fined a total of US$1.19 billion by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It was the largest-ever U.S. fine for export control violations.[36][37]

ZTE was allowed to continue working with U.S. companies, provided that it properly reprimand all employees involved in the violations. However, the Department of Commerce found that ZTE had violated these terms and made false statements regarding its compliance, having fired only 4 senior officials and still providing bonuses to 35 other employees involved in the violations. On 16 April 2018, the Department of Commerce banned U.S. companies from providing exports to ZTE for seven years.[38][39][40] At least 25% of components on recent ZTE smartphones originated from the U.S., including Qualcomm processors and certified Android software with Google Mobile Services.[41][42] An analyst stated that it would take a significant amount of effort for ZTE to redesign its products as to not use U.S.-originated components.[43]

On 9 May 2018, ZTE announced that, although it was "actively communicating with the relevant U.S. government departments" to reverse the export ban, it had suspended its "major operating activities" (including manufacturing) and trading of its shares.[42][44] On 13 May 2018, U.S. president Donald Trump stated that he would be working with Chinese president Xi Jinping to reverse the ban.[45] It was argued that the export ban was being used as leverage by the United States as part of an ongoing trade dispute with China.[46][47] On 7 June 2018, ZTE agreed to a settlement with the Department of Commerce in order to lift the import ban. The company agreed to pay a US$1 billion fine, place an additional US$400 million of suspended penalty money in escrow, replace its entire senior management, and establish a compliance department selected by the Department.[48]

Later that month, the U.S. Senate passed a version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 that blocked the settlement, and banned the federal government from purchasing equipment from Huawei and ZTE (citing them as national security risks due to risks of Chinese government surveillance). The settlement was criticized by Senators as being "personal favours" between Trump and the Chinese government, as the Chinese government issued a loan for an Indonesian theme park project with a Trump golf course following the May 2018 announcement.[49][50] However, the House version of the bill, signed by Trump, did not include the provision blocking the settlement, but still included the ban on federal purchase of Huawei and ZTE products.[51]

On 13 July 2018, the denial order was officially lifted.[10][11][52][53]

In January 2019, it became public that ZTE has retained the services of former senator Joe Lieberman as a lobbyist.[54]

In July 2020, the U.S. government banned companies that use ZTE from receiving federal contracts.[16]

Bribery investigation[edit]

In 2020, it was disclosed that the United States Department of Justice opened an investigation into ZTE for potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.[55][56]

Shareholders[edit]

As of June 30, 2019, Zhongxing Xin (Chinese: 中興新; lit.: 'Zhongxing New'; aka ZTE Holdings), an intermediate holding company, owned 27.40% stake of ZTE.[57]

The shareholders of ZTE Holdings were Xi'an Microelectronics (Chinese: 西安微电子技术研究所; a subsidiary of the state-owned China Academy of Aerospace Electronics Technology) with 34%, Aerospace Guangyu (Chinese: 深圳航天广宇工业有限公司; a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Shenzhen Group) with 14.5%, Zhongxing WXT (Chinese: 深圳市中兴维先通设备有限公司; aka Zhongxing Weixiantong) with 49%, and a private equity fund Guoxing Ruike (Chinese: 國興睿科) with 2.5%.[58] The first two shareholders are state-owned enterprises, nominating 5 out 9 directors of ZTE Holdings, while Zhongxing WXT was owned by the founders of ZTE, including Hou Weigui, which Zhongxing WXT nominated the rest of the directors (4 out 9) of ZTE Holdings.[1]:110–112

The mixed ownership model of ZTE was described as "a firm is an SOE from the standpoint of ownership, but a POE [privately owned enterprises] from the standpoint of management", according to an article of Curtis J. Milhaupt and Zheng Wentong of Columbia University,[59] ZTE described itself as "state-owned and private-run".[60] The South China Morning Post and the Financial Times have both described ZTE as state-owned.[61][62] Other scholars have noted the links between ZTE's state-owned shareholders and the People's Liberation Army.[63]

Subsidiaries[edit]

The ZTE Tower in Shenzhen

ZTE has several international subsidiaries in countries including Indonesia, Australia,[64][65] Germany,[66] the United States,[67][68] India,[69] Brazil,[70] Sri Lanka,[citation needed][71] Myanmar,[72] Singapore,[73] and Romania.[74]

ZTEsoft engages in ICT industry and specializes in providing BSS/OSS, big data products and services to telecom operators, and ICT, smart city and industry products and services to enterprises and governments.

ZTE Office Building SZ1

Nubia Technology was a fully owned subsidiary of ZTE Corporation. The company has subsequently disposed of the majority of its equity in the company. In 2017 it reduced its stake to 49.9%.[75]

Zonergy is a renewables company with interests in electricity generation through solar parks in China and Pakistan and palm oil cultivation in Indonesia to produce biofuels. ZTE is a major shareholder and was instrumental in the creation of the company in 2007 but holds a minority of the shares in the entity.[76]

Products[edit]

A ZTE Blade S6 Plus

ZTE operates in three business segments – Carrier Networks(~54%)-Terminals(~29%)-Telecommunication(~17%) Products can be roughly arranged into three categories: equipment used by network operators (links and nodes, etc.), equipment used to access networks (terminals), and services, which includes software.[77] In October 2010, ZTE's unified encryption module received U.S./Canada FIPS140-2 security certification,[78][79] which made ZTE the first vendor from P.R. China to successfully validate modules according to the NIST FIPS140-2 standard under the CMVP program.[80]

Consumer electronics[edit]

Mobile phones[edit]

As of 2012, ZTE is the 4th largest mobile phone vendor.[81] It also placed fifth on IDC's smartphone vendor leaderboard.[82][83] Strategy Analytics counts ZTE as 4th largest smartphone vendor (5% market share) in 2Q2013.[84] It also manufactures tablets.[85][86][87]

In November 2017, ZTE announced the Axon M.[88][89] The two screens can run separate applications, or spread one app over the combined display size of 6.75-inches.[90][91] The second screen also works as a kickstand.[92][93]

In 2019 was announced the ZTE AXON S, a brand new concept of smartphone with no holes or apertures thanks to a lateral slider.[94]

Mobile Hotspots[edit]

The MF60 and MF80 4G mobile hotspots were announced in August 2011.[95]

Windows Phone[edit]

At Mobile World Congress 2014 in Spain, Microsoft announced that ZTE is the latest hardware partner of Windows Phone platform.[96]

Network Operators Equipment, Network Nodes and Network Elements[edit]

ZTE is also a provider of Core Routing and Core Network equipment, also known as Network Elements such as:

Customers[edit]

ZTE booth at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona

During the 2000s, the majority of ZTE's customers were developing country mobile network operators, but ZTE products see use in developed countries as well. The UK's Vodafone, Canadian Telus, Australia's Telstra, as well as France Telecom have all purchased equipment from ZTE.[97]

Many Chinese companies are also ZTE customers, including China Netcom,[98] China Mobile,[99] China Satcom,[100] China Telecom,[101] and China Unicom.[5][102]

ZTE began to release smartphones in the United States in 2011. The company elected to focus its efforts on low-cost products for discount and prepaid wireless carriers, including devices with premium features typically associated with high-end products, such as large high-resolution screens and fingerprint readers.[44]

Sponsorship[edit]

In May 2016, ZTE became the co-sponsor of German club Borussia Mönchengladbach.[103]

Since 2015, taking advantage of the league's appeal in China, several U.S. National Basketball Association teams have had sponsorship deals with ZTE, including the Houston Rockets (based in the home city of ZTE's U.S. subsidiary), Golden State Warriors, and New York Knicks.[104][105]

Controversies[edit]

Bribes for contracts[edit]

Norway

Norwegian telecommunications giant Telenor, one of the world's largest mobile operators, banned ZTE from "participating in tenders and new business opportunities for 6 months because of an alleged breach of its code of conduct in a procurement proceeding" during a five-month time span ending in March 2009.[106]

Philippines

Contracts with ZTE to build a broadband network for the Philippine government reportedly involved kickbacks to government officials.[107] The project was later cancelled.[107][108]

Surveillance system sale[edit]

In December 2010, ZTE sold systems for eavesdropping on phone and Internet communications to the government-controlled Telecommunication Company of Iran. This system may help Iran monitor and track political dissidents.[109]

Security[edit]

At least one ZTE mobile phone (sold as the ZTE Score in the United States by Cricket and MetroPCS) can be remotely accessed by anyone with an easily obtained password.[81]

ZTE, as well as Huawei, has faced scrutiny by the U.S. federal government over allegations that Chinese government surveillance could be performed through its handsets and infrastructure equipment.[110] In 2012, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a report recommending that the government be prohibited from purchasing equipment from the firms, citing them as possible threats to national security.[20][111][112][113] A ban on government purchases of Huawei and ZTE equipment was formalized in a defence funding bill passed in August 2018.[51]

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