Slammed in the US, welcome in NZ -- what's up with Huawei?

Computerworld seeks comment from NZ telcos, govt on US report claiming Huawei poses security threat; Huawei statement and US report in full

Huawei has been slammed in a special report by the US House of Representative select committee which investigated whether the Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor poses a national security threat.

The report warns telecommunication companies in the US against using equipment supplied by Huawei and another major Chinese vendor ZTE (see report below). "Based on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."

In response, Huawei has issued a global statement (see below) claiming despite its full cooperation, the US committee "was committed to a pre-determined outcome."

"The report released by the Committee today employs many rumors and speculations to prove non-existent accusations. This report does not address the challenges faced by the ICT industry. Almost every ICT firm is conducting R&D, software coding and production activities globally; they share the same supply chain, and the challenges on network security are beyond a company or a country. The Committee's report completely ignored this fact. We have to suspect that the only purpose of such a report is to impede competition and obstruct Chinese ICT companies from entering the US market."

In New Zealand opposition parties want the government to stop Huawei operating in New Zealand following the concerns expressed in the US congressional report. Labour is calling for an independent inquiry into the Government's handling of Huawei's share of the $1.35 billion Ultra Fast Broadband deployment.

"These allegations on such a sensitive contract raise potential national security concerns. Kiwis have lost confidence in our intelligence agencies since the Dotcom saga so an independent investigation is needed," says Labour's acting ICT spokesperson David Cunliffe.

"The United States is now urging potential Huawei customers to look elsewhere and the Australians are also limiting the company's involvement. Kiwis need to know why we are taking a different approach. What do they know that we don't?"

ICT Minister Amy Adams has emailed Computerworld the following statement:

"The opposition parties are painting a very misleading view of the situation. The fact is that Huawei is involved in telecommunications in more than 100 countries, and hundreds of millions of people use their technology.

"It is incorrect to suggest that the Government is not active in regards to minimising potential cyber threats, however I am not prepared to have a public discussion about our security strategies. It has been a long-standing tradition that governments do not comment on intelligence matters or individual companies.

"However, it is important to make clear that the Government takes network security seriously, and is committed to working with operators and suppliers to protect the integrity and confidentiality of New Zealand's telecommunications networks.

In New Zealand Huawei is a technology supplier for the following companies, which Computerworld has sought comment from this morning:

Ultra Fast Broadband network

Huawei is the technology partner for two companies awarded the contracts under the UFB - Ultra Fast Fibre in the central North Island and Enable Networks in Christchurch. Ultra Fast Fibre was not commenting about the US report today.

Enable Networks spokesperson says: "We selected Huawei on the basis of their ability to meet the requirements for the UFB project. We understand our role in ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of our network."

Crown Fibre Holdings -- the government agency overseeing the UFB contracts -- has also been contacted, however a spokesperson says it is not able to comment on matters of security policy and has forwarded our query to the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Rural Broadband network

In December last year Chorus announced it had signed a deal with Huawei for it to supply coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) equipment, as part of the roll out of the Rural Broadband network.

A spokesperson for Chorus says Huawei's role in RBI is in a limited capacity to provide DWDM backhaul in some parts of the network.

Mobile

Huawei built 2degrees' existing mobile network and in 2011 the mobile telco signed a $100 million deal with Huawei to upgrade its mobile network over the next two years.

A 2degrees spokesperson says the company will not be commenting.

Fixed line

Huawei is Vodafone's technology partner for its fixed line network in New Zealand. A spokesperson has emailed Computerworld the following comment:

"Vodafone New Zealand works with a number of vendors who provide network services. Most recently we have signed a new agreement with long standing partner Nokia Siemens Networks to upgrade our mobile network. And we work with Cisco for our core IP network for fixed and mobile.

Our relationship with Huawei is focused on our fixed line broadband network which comprises 55 local exchanges in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Our annual spend with Huawei is around one per cent of our capex budget. Like all the mobile providers in New Zealand, we also sell a range of Huawei phones and modems."

Huawei statement

Huawei statement regarding US Congress Select Committee Investigation

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