Monday, 13 August 2018 05:23

Huawei likely to get limited role in 5G networks: report Featured

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Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei is likely to be allowed to play a role in the rollout of 5G networks in Australia, but will face curbs on provision of equipment for what are deemed sensitive parts of the networks.

The Australian  reported on Monday that despite a number of allegations of the company being a security risk, it still enjoyed some support in Canberra.

One industry source was quoted as saying: "There won’t be a ban and any decision on what role Huawei plays will be outlined within the framework of the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform."

But other companies that are likely to bid for a role in the 5G rollout have also come under a cloud.

Fairfax Media  reported on Monday that both Nokia and Ericsson get most of their equipment manufactured in factories in China which are joint ventures owned by the state and led by Communist Party officials.

Critics of Huawei have produced no evidence to justify their claims that the company poses a security risk, only saying that it could have links to the Chinese leadership.

The TSSR will take effect on 18 September and will impose numerous obligations on telcos: a security obligation, a notification requirement, information gathering power and directions power.

Huawei has provided 4G equipment for both Optus and Vodafone mobile networks for use in the radio access network layer. If it is considered a high-risk provider, then it could be limited to operating in the core network that authenticates users.

The source said: “In the 5G space, the core and the radio networks will be aligned a lot closer through software and that’s what why concerns have been raised."

Huawei has pushed for setting up a security assurance centre in Australia, the same as it has in the UK, and this may come to fruition as part of deal for a limited role in 5G

The company has recently bolstered its lobbying in Canberra, enlisting Matt Stafford, the former cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on its lobbyist roster, according to a report in InnovationAus.

The company has former Victorian Labor premier John Brumby on its board and its Australian operations are chaired by John Lord, a former rear admiral with the Royal Australian Navy.

Huawei was banned from bidding for contracts for Australia's national broadband network, the NBN, in 2012.

Australia has also acted to prevent the company participating in an undersea cable project linking the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea to Sydney.

The US has put considerable pressure on Huawei, locking it out of a number of American contracts. American spy agencies have also pushed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to keep Huawei out.

American fears about the company extend back nearly a decade with the NSA having hacked into Huawei's offices in Shenzhen in 2010, according to documents released by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

iTWire has contacted Huawei for comment.

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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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