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Huawei Australia: 'No urgency' on government's 5G decision


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Huawei Australia CEO George Huang and board member John Brumby


(Image: Corinne Reichert/ZDNet)

Huawei has denied that a lengthy government decision-making process on whether to allow it to take part in 5G will not put it behind its competitors when it comes to Australia’s new network deployments.

“We’re in exactly the same position as any of the other players, whether you’re talking about Nokia or Ericsson, Alcatel or Cisco, any other players who participate in the 5G platform, and so we’ll all start at the same time,” Huawei Australia board member John Brumby told ZDNet on Wednesday.

“There’s always a lot of expectation and hype about 5G, but it will evolve over time … the evolution is going to take some time, so there’s no urgency with this.”

Brumby told ZDNet that the government works at its own pace, but that Huawei expects a decision in the “not too distant future”, adding that the company is “happy with the government process” thus far.

“We are obviously working closely with government agencies and government departments, and I think it’s true to say that some of the carriers and some of our partners would also be expressing their views to government about the benefits that 5G can bring to Australia — the productivity benefits and the economic benefits — and the significant advantage and benefits that Huawei’s participation would bring,” Brumby said on the sidelines of the Huawei Australia and New Zealand Partners Convention 2018 in Sydney.

“At the end of the day, that’ll be a decision for government, and there are always competing interests within government, and they’ll come to a decision at a Cabinet level about this matter, but we’ve been comfortable with the access and opportunities that we’ve been given.

“We’ve worked closely with agencies and departments, the prime minister has made it clear that there’s to be a proper open and transparent process and we’re participating in that.”

Huawei Australia CEO George Huang reiterated his position that the Chinese tech giant will comply with the laws of whatever country it is operating in, as well as with Chinese laws, denying that any conflict between the two would be likely to arise.

“Definitely we will abide by the laws and regulations in Australia — in China, we also abide by the Chinese law, but without any conflict to the legal obligations in other countries,” Huang said.

“We never see any conflict. I don’t think any laws in any country are in conflict with the laws in any other countries.”

Read more: Paranoia will destroy us: Why Chinese tech isn’t spying on us

Referring to the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, or decryption Bill, introduced to Parliament earlier this week, meanwhile, Huawei Australia cyber security officer Malcolm Shore on Wednesday said the company will examine the draft legislation before speaking out about its implications.

“We obviously need to look at all the various scenarios that you can interpret from the Bill, and look at what our responsibility is obviously as a supplier of devices — we sell devices, but we don’t operate them after they’re sold,” Shore said.

“I think we’ll be having discussions with government about the application of the Bill, particularly with its potential conflict with privacy. We’ll be open and transparent, and we’ll have that dialogue.”

Brumby added that whenever there are security issues being handled by government, there is “always tension” between the privacy of individuals and national security.

“Every company that operates in the space will have an interest in that legislation,” he said.

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