It has been a long-running drama – and now Huawei has confirmed it has been banned, along with ZTE, from Australia’s 5G rollout over perceived security concerns.
A joint media release from senators Mitch Fifield – who has since resigned after a turbulent week in Australian politics which has seen prime minister Malcolm Turnbull ousted – and Scott Morrison, acting minister for home affairs, aimed to provide 5G security guidance to Australian carriers.
“The Government is committed to protecting this vital technology,” the release noted. “To fully realise 5G’s benefits, Government and industry need to continue to work together to take necessary steps to safeguard the security of Australians’ information and communications at all times, and the integrity and availability of the networks themselves.”
The release does not name any specific vendors, but a statement from Huawei’s Australian arm on Twitter said it was an ‘extremely disappointing result for consumers’. The company then followed this up with a more detailed statement.
“Huawei is one of the core developers behind 5G,” the statement noted. “The Australian government recognises the massive benefits that 5G technology will bring to Australia’s economy, and yet it has restricted the use of Huawei’s technology. Innovation works because innovators are rewarded for their work, but the government has effectively denied Huawei a right to compete for a return on our investment.
“For any country, fair and robust market competition is essential to strong economic growth,” the statement added. “The Australian government’s actions undermine the principles of competition and non-discrimination in fair trade. The government has not issued any specific concerns about Huawei’s governance, security, or suitability to safely and securely conduct business in Australia, so we’ve been given nothing to respond to.
“We will continue to engage with the Australian government, and in accordance with Australian law and relevant international conventions, we will take all possible measures to protect our legal rights and interests,” the statement concluded.
This publication has previously reported on the rumbling brouhaha. In May, Australian politician Michael Danby name-checked Huawei and ZTE in calling for a ban on buying 5G network equipment from Chinese firms, telling parliament that Australia’s rollout would “be compromised if we sell the construction of our new central communications 5G network to companies effectively controlled by an authoritarian government whose leader has recently been made dictator for life.”
Huawei Australia hit back at those sentiments later that week – and had to do so again in June when a report from Australian Financial Review said the company was ‘all but certain to be excluded from providing equipment’ towards Australia’s 5G network. Later that month, it was revealed that Huawei appeared to be cutting research funding in the country – a claim the company denied.
Huawei added in its Twitter statement that it was a ‘world leader in 5G’ and that it had ‘safely and securely delivered wireless technology in Australia for close to 15 years.’