TECH NEWS – Canada has announced that it will ban two of China’s largest telecom equipment manufacturers, Huawei and ZTE, from working on its 5G phone networks.
The restrictions against Huawei and ZTE were announced by the country’s industry minister on Thursday. Francois-Philippe Champagne said the move would improve Canada’s mobile internet services and “protect the security of Canadians”. But Huawei Canada said it was “disappointed” by the decision, which it said was “political”.
“This is an unfortunate political decision that has nothing to do with cybersecurity or the technologies at stake,” the statement said.
Several nations, including the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, have already imposed restrictions on companies. The four countries, together with Canada, form the intelligence-sharing agreement known as the “Five Eyes”. It was developed during the Cold War as a mechanism for monitoring the Soviet Union and sharing classified information.
Canada’s announcement was widely expected, as its allies had already banned Huawei and ZTE from their high-speed networks. Speaking to reporters in the Canadian capital Ottawa, Mr Champagne said the decision was taken “after a full review by our security agencies and consultation with our closest allies”.
“Let me be very clear: we will always defend the safety and security of Canadians and will take all necessary measures to protect our telecommunications infrastructure,” he added.
“In a world of 5G, at a time when we rely more and more on [our] network in our daily lives, this is the right thing to do”.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Ottawa told Reuters news agency that Beijing sees the security concerns raised by Canada as a “pretext for political manipulation”. The Chinese spokesman also accused Canada of working with the US to suppress Chinese companies. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not immediately respond to the BBC’s request for comment.
Huawei Canada said its equipment had been “thoroughly inspected” by government and security agencies, adding that there had been “zero security incidents due to Huawei’s equipment”. “Banning Huawei’s equipment and services will result in a significant economic loss to Canada and will increase the cost of communications for Canadian consumers,” the statement said.
“Unfortunately, this decision is beyond our control as a business. However, we will do everything in our power to protect the legitimate rights and interests of our customers, partners and ourselves”.
Meanwhile, ZTE said it rejected the “premise” of the Canadian government’s announcement, saying it was “highly speculative”.
“We have always adhered to international standards and best practices and have opened our cybersecurity laboratories to allow regulators and stakeholders to verify the security of ZTE’s products,” the company said.
5G, or the fifth generation, is the next evolution of mobile internet networks, offering much faster data download and upload speeds, as well as the ability to access the internet from multiple devices simultaneously. It comes in parallel with the surge in data traffic and the growing popularity of video and music streaming. This is driving governments and mobile network operators to improve their telecoms infrastructure.
The Canadian government’s decision means that telecom companies operating in the country can no longer use equipment made by Huawei and ZTE. “Companies that have already installed equipment made by Chinese manufacturers will now have to remove it,” Mr Champagne said.
Canada first announced a review of Huawei equipment in September 2018.
In recent years, some of China’s most influential technology and telecom companies have been targeted by the US and other Western governments over national security concerns. In November, US President Joe Biden signed legislation that prevents companies deemed a security threat from obtaining licences for new telecoms equipment in the country.
This means that equipment from Huawei, ZTE and three other Chinese companies cannot be used on US telecom networks.
Source: El Comercio