Huawei SVP says the company should not be ‘singled out’ in the U.S.
DENVER–Huawei, which has been locked out of the Tier 1 U.S. carrier market and is the ongoing focus of cybersecurity scrutiny from government officials, does have a domestic foothold with smaller, rural carriers. And at the Competitive Carrier Association’s annual Mobile Carriers Show this week, officials from the Chinese technology giant were on hand to engage with customers and address any potential concerns.
In an interview with RCR Wireless News, leaders of Huawei’s U.S. business discussed a lack of willingness among U.S. officials to engage with the company and foster a dialogue around cybersecurity concerns that have been lingering for years. Pointing to efforts U.S. allies like Germany and the United Kingdom have made pertaining to risk examination and mitigation, the company sees a clear path forward–but it requires buy-in from the government.
Company Senior Vice President Joy Tan said the company operates in more than 170 countries, including with Tier 2 and Tier 3 American carriers, and none of the customers have ever had a cybersecurity incident, and Huawei continues to invest billions in internal and customer-facing cybersecurity efforts.
“I think Huawei is really a market leader in this aspect,” she said, noting how the U.K. works with the company through its National Cyber Security Center, which recently concluded the country has the tools in place to mitigate any potential concerns with Huawei’s network infrastructure equipment.
In fact, Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ, the U.K. signals intelligence agency, wrote in the Financial Times that NCSC had “never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei” and that any “assertions that any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represents an unacceptable risk are nonsense.”
Tan said Huawei has been working with the U.K. for years “and we’re passing the most rigorous tests. I don’t think a lot of our industry peers can provide this level of assurance to their customers.”
Then there’s Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel last month reiterated that the government is not planning to exclude Huawei from 5G contracts in the country, despite pressure–since walked back–from the U.S. to do just that
“There are two things I don’t believe in,” Merkel said during a speech at the Global Solutions summit in Berlin. “First, to discuss these very sensitive security questions publicly, and second, to exclude a company simply because it’s from a certain country.”
Earlier this year Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) set strict security standards for 5G regardless of the provider. While the new regulation does not exclude any country or company, it does make sure that foreign vendors cannot undermine Germany’s security standards. BNetzA stipulates that systems may only be sourced from trustworthy suppliers whose compliance with national security regulations and provisions for the secrecy of telecommunications and for data protection is assured.
An industry-level approach is the right way to go and what Huawei has been advocating for years, Chase Skinner, Huawei senior director of corporate communications, said. “Security challenges are not unique to a particular vendor. We need to take an industry-wide approach to address these issues.”
Huaweis’ Chief Security Officer for the U.S., Andy Purdy, Jr., was on hand at the Mobile Carriers Show said the approaches in the Germany and U.K. could be instructive to the situation in the U.S. “I think developments around the world that create risk mitigation mechanisms that governments are satisfied by, that can help inform what might in the United States, particularly [with]close allies.”
Tan reiterated: “Whatever standard or framework the government sets, it should be applicable to all the technology providers, not just to Huawei or any country. The standard or framework should be followed by all the providers and Huawei should not be singled out.”
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