US Gov presses allies to ditch Huawei

Huawei Building

The US government is trying to persuade allied countries to avoid using telecommunication equipment from Chinese company Huawei, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In the report, it's claimed that US officials have reached out to their government counterparts to warn them of the risks posed by using Huawei equipment. The WSJ report cites an unnamed source, allegedly familiar with the situation.

These sources say the US is concerned with the use of Chinese telecoms equipment in countries that host American military bases, such as Germany, Italy and Japan.The Defense Department has its own satellites and telecom network for especially sensitive communications, but most traffic at many military installations travels through commercial networks.

Back in August, President Donald Trump signed the Defense Authorisation Act, which had a component banning both Huawei and ZTE technology from being used by the US government. This also banned any third-party company from working with the US government if it used tech from either firm.

But now, according to WSJ, this battle is being pushed beyond the US, where some officials see this initiative as part of a broader "technological cold war" between US allies and China for control of an increasingly digitalised future, set to be vulnerable to over-surveillance and cyber attacks.

There is a noticeable push by telecoms companies, around the world, to develop 5G infrastructure and Huawei are said to be advancing this technology to be ready for 2019 rollout. The next generation of mobile connectivity is said to be an enabler of IoT technologies, many of which could revolutionise businesses, but could also open up opportunities for cyber attacks.

"5G promises to enable the 'internet of things' way beyond 'smart things'," said Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure. "In the future, devices, equipment and robots running real-time operating systems will require local 5G networks, because low latency is a must for safety reasons. Any lag is dangerous when it comes to industrial robots. Future 'robots' will be cloud-brains controlling multiple endpoints.

"So, everything will be connected to 5G networks in the future. Right now, the focus is on telecom operators. But there's ultimately a lot more at stake. The way the telecoms go will impact the way in which everything goes and that explains the US government's motives. Current supply chain concerns are nothing compared to what could be."

In response to the story, a Huawei spokesperson told ITPro: "Huawei is surprised by the behaviours of the US government detailed in the article. If a government's behaviour extends beyond its jurisdiction, such activity should not be encouraged.

"Huawei firmly believes that our partners and customers will make the right choice based on their own judgment and experience of working with Huawei. We will continue to serve our global customers with our innovative solutions."

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.