Friday, 13 September 2019 10:15

Huawei chief offers to share technology with Western firm Featured

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Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technology has expressed its willingness to sell its 5G technology to a Western company and allow the latter to develop it as it wished, while the Chinese firm continued on its own chosen path.

The offer was made by chief executive Ren Zhengfei during an interview with the British magazine, The Economist. Ren said, for a one-off payment, the buyer would have access to all Huawei’s existing 5G patents, licences, code, technical blueprints and production secrets.

The buyer would be allowed to modify the source code which meant that nobody could in future accuse either Huawei or the Chinese Government of being able to have any control over such hypothetical equipment built by the buyer.

Huawei is under attack from the US which has claimed, for some years, that the Chinese firm’s equipment can be used for spying by Beijing. The US, Australia and Japan have banned the use of Huawei gear in their 5G networks; New Zealand has banned one telco, Spark, from using the equipment, but claims that it has not yet instituted a ban.

The offer is reminiscent of what the Russian security firm Kaspersky (then known as Kaspersky Lab) did after it came under attack in the US and was banned from providing software to the public sector. The company set up transparency centres in Switzerland and Malaysia, where it said all its code would be reviewed in order to ensure that there was no suspicion that backdoors were planted to allow the Russian Government access.

Ren told The Economist that the money from such a deal would allow Huawei to make progress in its development. A US ban on purchases from American companies has hit Huawei hard and the company is expected to make losses this year and in coming years as well. It has cut nearly 100 staff in Australia.

There has been no indication from Beijing as to whether the Chinese Government would agree to such a proposal; Huawei is the biggest 5G supplier worldwide, well ahead of Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia. The fourth company with the ability to build end-to-end 5G networks, ZTE Corporation, is also Chinese.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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