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Huawei ready to face extra security to stay in the 5G race

Published Feb 13th, 2019 10:05PM EST
Huawei 5G Hardware
Image: LetsGoDigital

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Huawei isn’t just a top three worldwide smartphone vendor and the number one handset maker in China, but also at the forefront of 5G — the next standard in mobile telecommunications. Huawei also happens to be facing increased scrutiny in various western markets over spying concerns that were first raised by the US a few years ago.

The company’s smartphone and 5G businesses face risks in several markets, and while Huawei proved it can sell a massive number of smartphones without being present in the US, losing 5G contracts to rivaling networking firms has to be worrisome. The Chinese company appears to be willing to go through any security tests to stay in the race to sell 5G networking equipment to central and eastern European markets, according to its Chief Security Officer for the US, Andy Purdy.

The exec told Reuters on Wednesday, in response to comments made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Poland earlier this week, that Huawei is playing the long game in those markets. Pompeo cautioned allies during a stop in Hungary on his trip in Eastern Europe against using Huawei equipment, warning that it would make it more difficult for Washington to partner with them.

Purdy said that Huawei is ready to work with governments on any security measures, including testing source codes for products. “If the government decides to ban us from 5G we will continue to take a long view of the potential sales of our products in Poland over time … we believe that some day in the future we’ll be allowed to compete for that business if we’re not allowed to compete for it now,” he said.

Purdy’s comments may be related to Poland, a country where a Huawei exec was recently arrested on spying allegations, and a country that’s considering excluding Huawei from its 5G networks. But these remarks from Huawei are probably valid for any country in the world that’s looking at deploying 5G infrastructure in the coming years. Poland also happens to be a country where Huawei is the number one smartphone vendor right now, according to recent reports, owning over 30% of the market.

Huawei might be facing tougher regulation in Germany as well, where Interior Minister Horst Seehofer backed a law proposal that would toughen security requirements on foreign network vendors. However, that doesn’t mean Huawei equipment will be excluded from Germany’s upcoming 5G mobile networks. Germany will only start auctioning 5G spectrum in March. By then, we might see the first 5G phones selling around the world, including in Korea and the US, which should be among the first to have 5G coverage.

Huawei will launch its first 5G phone at MWC next week, which also happens to be its first foldable phone. When it comes to 5G tech, Huawei announced several 5G products in the past year, including a 5G modem for smartphones that was unveiled a few weeks ago.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.