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Sprint, Softbank agree to ditch Huawei over spy concerns

Published Mar 29th, 2013 9:33AM EDT
Sprint Softbank Merger Huawei Equipment

Sprint (S) and Japanese carrier Softbank (SFTBY) have confirmed to U.S. lawmakers they won’t use equipment from Huawei following their upcoming merger, Bloomberg reported. Softbank announced plans last October to pay more than $20 billion to acquire a 70% stake in Sprint. The deal was approved by the board of directors at both companies and was awaiting the green light from the Federal Communications Commission.

Earlier this year, however, the United States Department of Justice asked the FCC to defer the planned merger so that it would have more time to review the proposal for “any national security, law enforcement, and public safety issues.”

U.S. officials have become increasingly worried about telecom equipment provided by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. It was previously reported that both companies could be working with the Chinese government for non-commercial reasons.

“If government approval of the transaction is somehow contingent on an agreement to restrict purchase of equipment from any vendor based on the flag of heritage, then it is a sad day for free and open global trade and it does nothing to secure the network,” Bill Plummer, a Huawei spokesperson, said regarding the news. “Everyone is global and every company faces the same cyber challenges.”

Sprint also plans to replace Huawei equipment in Clearwire’s network, in which the company owns a majority stake.

“I have met with Softbank and Sprint regarding this merger and was assured they would not integrate Huawei in to the Sprint network and would take mitigation efforts to replace Huawei equipment in the Clearwire network,” said Representative Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican who is the head of the House Intelligence Committee.

Dan joins the BGR team as the Android Editor, covering all things relating to Google’s premiere operating system. His work has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn’t testing the latest devices or apps, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.

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