Huawei blocked from participation in Australian 5G infrastructure

The government said national security regulations that were typically applied to telecoms firms would be extended to equipment suppliers

The Australian government has moved to exclude Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei from involvement in the move to 5G wireless internet technology.

Late last week Huawei said on Twitter than both itself and ZTE had been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia, adding that "this is an extremely disappointing result for consumers".

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang said Australia should not "use various excuses to artificially erect barriers".

It called on Australia to "abandon ideological prejudices and provide a fair competitive environment for Chinese companies".

Australia has close security links to the United States, and is a member of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance comprising the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

On August 23 the Australian government said national security regulations that were typically applied to telecoms firms would be extended to equipment suppliers. Companies that were "likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government" could present a security risk, it said.

Huawei had lobbied hard in recent months ahead of decisions on the future of 5G.

In June Huawei Australia's independent directors John Lord, John Brumby and Lance Hockridge wrote a letter to MPs saying that Huawei is the world’s number one telecom infrastructure provider, that carriers in Australia have been using Huawei equipment for nearly 15 years, and there has never been any issue that could affect national security.

In a June 27 speech at the National Press Club Of Australia, Lord directly addressed the issue, in a section of his speech which posed the question  "Can Huawei be trusted to deliver 5G in Australia?"

He noted that today Huawei is the largest supplier of mobile broadband in Australia, providing the equipment for Optus, Vodafone and TPG. It has also built Australia’s largest private 4G network across the Cooper Basin for Santos. And with partner UGL, it has built Australia’s largest mobile communications system for railways on the Sydney metro rail system.

Lord said that after every kind of inspection, audit, review, nothing sinister had been found. No wrong doing, no criminal action or intent, no “back door”, no planted vulnerability and no “magical kill switch”. In fact, in our three decades as a company no evidence of any sort had been provided to justify these concerns by anyone – ever.

He posed the question that, if Huawei can deliver 4G to Australia already, why can’t it do 5G?, adding that the suggestions that Huawei, the largest provider of 4G technology in Australia today, should be banned from building 5G networks here should be a concern for everyone and every business in Australia.