Telecom giant Telus says it is removing Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from its 5G network development in Canada, and will rely on Western telecom manufacturers as well as South Korea to supply the needed infrastructure equipment, as it foresees Ottawa eventually restricting the use of Huawei’s kit in Canada.
Telus has declined to publicly discuss their decision to shelve Huawei due to competitive reasons, reported the Globe and Mail on Nov. 23. The company also says it’s subjected to a non-disclosure agreement with the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, which allocates the wireless spectrum for telecom companies launching 5G technology.
But the company said they would be upgrading their 5G networks across Canada, including in the National Capital Region—Ottawa, Ontario, Gatineau, and Quebec—where high-security departments such as the Bank of Canada and RCMP are based.
“We are leveraging multiple vendors including Samsung, Ericsson, and Nokia to upgrade our networks to 5G, and the National Capital Region is a priority market for our national rollout strategy,” Chief Technology Officer Ibrahim Gedeon told Globe and Mail.
“Further, we continue to follow guidance and meet all security requirements from the federal government and regulators.”
On June 2, Telus announced their partnership with Ericsson and Nokia to develop its 5G network, shortly after BCE Inc. said they would be partnering with Ericsson. On June 18, Telus made another announcement that Samsung was added into the partnership, but again but did not explicitly mention they would rule out Huawei.
For Telus and BCE, the decision to go with Huawei’s rivals was a business one, Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen’s University and the Royal Military College of Canada, said in a past interview.
“If you look at the business uncertainty when it comes to China, the business risk has increased substantially,” Leuprecht said.
The United States has been pressuring Canada and its allies in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network to ban Huawei from their 5G networks, as it views the company as an espionage arm of the Chinese state. It has also warned its allies it would limit data sharing with them if they allow Huawei to be part of their infrastructure.
Besides that, Washington put Huawei and 114 affiliates on a trade blacklist last year, barring U.S. firms from doing business with the company. It tightened these restrictions in May by blocking the company from being able to acquire from global chipmakers crucial semiconductors that power its smartphones and telecom gear.
Despite the warnings, Canada is the only member of the Five Eyes that hasn’t yet decided to ban or plan to ban Huawei from its 5G network.
Canada’s other telecom giant, Rogers, had earlier made a decision to not use Huawei, citing security threats.
On Nov. 18, a non-binding motion proposed by the Tories was passed in Parliament requiring the federal government to decide within 30 days whether to ban Huawei from participating in Canada’s 5G networks, as well as to develop a plan to combat Beijing’s growing interference operations in Canada.