Tuesday, 16 July 2019 11:02

US ally Manila turns to Chinese firm for 5G network build Featured

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US ally Manila turns to Chinese firm for 5G network build Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Philippines has snubbed its long-time ally, the US, and opted to use a 5G network build from a Chinese state-owned company, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Manila got its first exposure to 5G in June, and a new carrier named Dito Telecommunity, backed by China's state-owned China Telecommunications, was being set up to build the network, the newspaper said in a long and well-researched report.

The local partner for the joint venture is known as Udenna Group and it has no telecommunications experience, with interests in real estate, logistics and shipping.

The network will be designed in China and rolled out in the Philippines by Chinese engineers, with 40% of the new company being owned by China Telecom.

For a number of years, the US has been pushing countries it considers allies to avoid using equipment from Chinese companies, Huawei Technologies foremost, in 5G networks. But Washington has produced no proof to back up its claims that these products could be used to spy for Beijing.

Only Australia and New Zealand have fallen in line with Washington's dictates, but even Wellington is still indicating that the initial refusal for telco Spark to use Huawei gear is not the end of the matter. Huawei sued the US on 7 March, seeking to be reinstated as a telco supplier in the country.

Two British telcos, EE and Vodafone, have launched 5G services using Huawei gear in non-core parts of the network.

The WSJ report said China Telecom was keen to take up a majority stake in the Philippine joint venture and an official in Manila said the government was seeking to change the limits on foreign ownership to facilitate this.

Huawei already enjoys a dominant position in the Philippines, having supplied most of the equipment used by the two bigger local operators, Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

Other American allies to have gone with Huawei's 5G system are South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

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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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