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‘Reliable’ Huawei defended by Canadian telco Telus

Written by Mon 21 Jan 2019

As critics lament Huawei ‘hysteria’, Western telcos are being forced to take sides

The feud between the US and China over hardware giant Huawei shows no signs of relenting, leading to increasing numbers of western telcos taking a stance in favour or against the Shenzhen hardware provider.

One telco – Canada’s Telus – is one of the few in the west to come out in support of Huawei (albeit in private). The Globe and Mail has obtained an internal memo signed by a Telus exec downplaying concerns and reaffirming Huawei as a key partner in its smartphone and 5G operations.

“Clearly, Huawei remains a viable and reliable participant in the Canadian telecommunications space, bolstered by globally leading innovation, comprehensive security measures, and new software upgrades,” the memo reads.

Telus is among a number of Canadian telcos that could make use of Huawei equipment to develop the next generation of 5G wireless networks in Canada, but it is waiting for the results of a federal review before committing to the supplier. Huawei has previously been a key supplier at the edge of Telus’ wireless network, but not at the core.

Western front

The escalating economic standoff between the US and China has taken a political twist in recent months as key decision makers on Capitol Hill grow increasingly concerned that Chinese telecom hardware poses espionage risks. The US has since opened an investigation into Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from US business partners.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US are all part of an intelligence-sharing network, but it is still unclear whether the five countries will act in unison and universally ban Huawei telecom hardware.

The two countries that have come down hardest are Australia and New Zealand, which have both denied all local 5G providers from using the firm’s telecom equipment.

The UK has taken a softer stance, but providers were nevertheless pressured by MI6 chief Alex Younger to drop Huawei from its 5G plans in December – leading to BT stripping Huawei equipment from existing EE 3G and 4G core mobile operations and future 5G core operations.

Critics have pointed out that the Chinese chipmaker has always operated under close scrutiny of the countries’ security establishments. In 2010, a special facility was set up by the British government to review Huawei hardware, and it has thus far never found evidence of malpractice.

In a rare interview with Western media, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei hit back at security charges against the firm, and argued it is Western countries that will ultimately pay the price for rejecting Huawei equipment.

“If Huawei is not involved in this, these districts may have to pay very high prices in order to enjoy that level of experience,” said Ren.

“Those countries may voluntarily approach Huawei and ask Huawei to sell them 5G products rather than banning Huawei from selling 5G systems.”

Written by Mon 21 Jan 2019


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