Huawei’s North American Conquest Continues

We’ve kept a close eye on Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei for the last few years, and today the company justified our attention by telling me in an interview that in 2009 it grew its North American sales by 63 percent to $408 million. The base number is relatively small compared with Huawei’s global contract sales (deals that are signed, but where the revenue has yet to be recognized) of more than $30 billion, but North America is its fastest-growing market.

The company started its North American business in 2001 and now has 1,000 employees on the continent after adding 450 people in 2009. It’s cherry-picked some engineers from troubled equipment makers like Nortel and Nokia Siemens Networks (s nok) for its eight offices in North America. Charlie Chen, a SVP of  marketing and product management for the region, said it plans to achieve the same percentage growth in 2010, which would put it with contract sales of around $665 million.

Yesterday, the GSMA released data showing that North American operators plan to spend $19 billion in capital equipment for mobile broadband alone. Given that Huawei sells equipment for wired and wireless carriers, it’s making inroads in North America but it still has plenty of room for growth. Analyst Jonathan Goldberg, a Deutsche Bank analyst, notes that the overall capital equipment spending in North America has been flat or decreasing, which makes Huawei’s 63 percent growth look a lot more interesting, especially given the troubles in the telecommunications equipment sector.

Some highlights the company shared for the last year include: