Huawei insists it’s not a 5G espionage risk

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Huawei insists it’s not a 5G espionage risk

Two Korean mobile carriers are trying to decide whether to choose Huawei as their next-generation 5G network equipment provider, and the Chinese electronics giant sent a press release Monday to downplay potential spying issues.

Huawei said there has never been any information leakage over its devices and vowed to follow any Korean government demands for security verifications.

“Huawei’s products and solutions are used by customers and consumers in over 170 countries, Fortune 500 companies and major mobile operators around the world,” said Huawei in the release. “Huawei is doing its best to offer stringent cyber security and has received zero complaints concerning the issue.”

Huawei is now the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor after Samsung Electronics and the No. 1 maker of telecom network equipment. It noted in the release that it is “abiding by laws and regulations in the regions it offers ICT solutions.”

The release came as KT and LG U+, the two smaller players in Korea’s mobile market, are set to announce which telecom equipment suppliers they have chosen for their 5G service. Announcements are expected this month.

Given that LG U+ is already using 4G long-term evolution network devices from Huawei, it is highly likely Korea’s smallest telecom might choose the Chinese manufacturer for compatibility’s sake. It also uses network devices by Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson.

LG is likely to choose all four, including Huawei, for its 5G networks.

Sources say KT isn’t likely to opt for Huawei. The second-largest carrier in Korea has been using Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia equipment for its 4G LTE network.

Deals involving trillions of won in orders were supposed to be closed by August but have been delayed. Korea aims to commercialize 5G network as early as next March, but Korean telecom authorities are in a dilemma over the Chinese issue.

They realize Beijing could retaliate through trade sanctions if Korea decides not to choose the Huawei equipment.

Korea’s top telecom, SK Telecom picked Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Nokia as the suppliers for its 5G network equipment on Sept. 14 despite Huawei’s lower offer. Huawei is known to charge prices that are 20 to 30 percent lower than other global competitors for high-quality 5G equipment.

Huawei’s security problem stems from its ties to the Chinese government, and the worry that its equipment being used for spying purposes isn’t confined to Korea. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre said in July that it “is less confident” about the integrity of Huawei products.

The U.S. and Australian governments in August banned Huawei and ZTE from supplying equipment to develop the country’s 5G wireless infrastructure for security reasons.

One of the main reasons for the escalating trade war between the United States and China is their desire to win in the 5G race to become a global leader.

Huawei is already a supplier of 4G networks in Australia and refuted the August decision, saying Canberra should not use the excuse of national security to erect trade barriers.

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