Sunday, 25 March 2012 18:02

Australian government bans Huawei from NBN

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Huawei, the leading Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer has been told by the Australian Government that its bids for supply to the NBN are not welcome.

Long accused of links to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (as the company's chief executive was once a member, serving as an engineer) and also dogged by accusations of employing serving members of the PLA Huawei has always had a difficult time establishing its bona fides in Western countries.

Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei has never agreed to a media interview.

The company has however had its successes.  Optus recently named Huawei as the supplier of LTE equipment for a 700MHz trial in the Newcastle area.  Furthermore Huawei is a leading supplier of broadband equipment in eight other major NBN roll-outs, including those of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Chinese links to other 'sensitive' projects have also raised the hackles of the Australian Government.  For instance a Chinese-owned minerals project close to the Woomera defence testing area was rejected.

"As a strategic and significant government investment, we have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect [the NBN's] integrity and that of the information carried on it," a spokeswoman for Attorney-Ggeneral, Nicola Roxon said.

"This is consistent with the government's practice for ensuring the security and resilience of Australia's critical infrastructure more broadly."

Although breaking only now, this is not new as it is understood that Tony Sheehan, deputy secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, told Huawei Australia's chairman, retired Rear Admiral John Lord, of the bans late last year.

Clearly Huawei is lobbying had to have the ban overturned. They have co-opted high-profile Australians Alexander Downer (former foreign minister) and John Brumby (former Victorian premier) to the board and also retired Lord as chairman.

In addition, a planned sponsorship of the ACT Brumbies Super Rugby side fell through at the last minute and plans appear to be in place to replace the Brumbies with the Canberra Raiders.

Judging by the language on all sides, it would appear that the Australian Government is standing firm on this matter, possibly with the support and backing of the US Government (considering the lengths they are going to stop Huawei taking over US-owned networking companies, 3Leaf being the most recent example).


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David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.

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