Public Safety Minister calls all reports on Canada banning Huawei from 5G ‘speculation’

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says any reports that Canada could ban Huawei from its 5G networks are “speculation.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Ottawa has plans to ban the Shenzhen-based smartphone giant from doing any research in 5G networks.

“That’s speculation,” Goodale told the CBC in its article.

For a while now Canada has been under pressure to ban the company from participating in 5G network development after three members from the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance banned the China-based company.

The Five Eyes are a group of countries that share information and intelligence with regards to terrorism, security and espionage. It consists of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

New Zealand followed Australia, which itself followed the U.S., in banning the telecommunications giant from supplying equipment for the nation’s first 5G network out of fear of a national security breach.

According to a draft of China’s national intelligence law that was quietly released, all Chinese companies “shall support, cooperate with and collaborate in national intelligence work, and maintain the secrecy of national intelligence work they are aware of.”

Huawei Canada’s vice-president, Scott Bradley, recently sent the following statement to MobileSyrup:

“Huawei Canada will continue to work collaboratively with the Canadian government, carriers and other domestic stakeholders to take whatever steps are needed to ensure and protect the integrity of Canada’s national telecommunications infrastructure, including the rollout of 5G technology. Our highest priority is — and always has been — the security and privacy of the networks that we help to equip here in Canada.”

Goodale told reporters at the Empire Club in Toronto on December 14th: “Digital technologies enrich our lives in countless ways and underlying them is complex infrastructure upon which our economy and modern society depend … our most sensitive personal and financial information is floating in a cloud,” Goodale told the crowd, adding foreign states, militaries, terror groups, organized crime and petty thieves try to hack Canada’s digital infrastructure millions of times a day.

“Imagine the damage that would ensue if a major digital infrastructure system were to be compromised — in telecommunications, for example, or banking, or transportation, or healthcare or energy transmission.”

Huawei ban could cost telecoms billions

Banning Huawei equipment from the next-generation of mobile network could cost Canadian telecom giants an estimated $1-billion.

An executive has suggested that Huawei would cost $500 million to $1 billion CAD for Telus alone. Another industry source told the Globe it would cost Bell hundreds of millions of dollars. Finally, a third insider said the total estimated cost for both Bell and Telus would exceed $1 billion.

These costs would come from having to rip out and replace tens of thousands of antennas in order for the companies to remove Huawei equipment.

Bell and Telus use Huawei equipment in their cellular networks. However, Rogers, which utilizes some Huawei equipment, has mainly partnered with Swedish telecom Ericsson, Huawei’s main competitor in the 5G infrastructure space.

Huawei has operated in Canada since 2008 and employs nearly 1,000 individuals. The company told MobileSyrup during its 10-year anniversary celebration in October that it is currently working with 13 universities across Canada and plans on investing $37 million into research partnerships with its universities.

Canada has not allowed Huawei to bid on any federal government contracts, and in September 2018, the CSE confirmed that it tests and evaluates “designated equipment and services considered for use on Canadian 3G and 4G/LTE networks, including Huawei.”

“As part of its cybersecurity mandate, CSE works with telecommunications service providers representing over 99 percent of Canadian subscribers,” a CSE spokesperson told MobileSyrup at the time. “In this role, CSE provides advice and guidance to mitigate supply chain risks in telecommunications infrastructures which Canadians rely on.”

MobileSyrup asked CSE if any U.S. officials have cautioned the committee, but it did not directly respond to the question and added that the federal government plans to undertake a review of 5G technology.

MobileSyrup has reached out to Telus and Bell for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

Rogers did not have any comment to provide regarding Huawei. The company says that it is working with Ericsson to build its 5G network.

Huawei CFO arrest causes Canada-China tensions

In the midst of the discussion regarding whether Canada would ban the smartphone company, Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver at the behest of the United States on charges related to Fraud.

The Crown granted Meng bail but with a list of rules.

Meng is currently facing extradition to the United States. U.S. law enforcement agencies allege Meng tried to evade U.S. trade embargoes against Iran. During the proceedings, the Crown lawyer noted that the U.S.’ 60-day-period to file a formal extradition request will end on January 8th, 2019. After that time, Wanzhou must be released, according to the judge.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to tie the arrest of two Canadians in China to Canada’s arrest of Meng, according to an interview on Citytv.

“China is reacting to the arrest of one of their citizens, but we are being absolutely clear on standing up for our citizens who’ve been detained, trying to figure out why, trying to work with China to demonstrate this is not acceptable,” Trudeau said.

Two Canadians are detained in China after Meng was arrested at the request of the U.S. on charges related to fraud. Meng, who is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, was granted bail on December 11th, 2018 with the judge listing various rules as part of her bail. China has not publicly made any connection.

The news of Meng’s arrest has also not shed a favourable light on Canada by China. Several state-run publications ran opinion pieces in the past couple of days criticizing Canada for arresting Meng.

China’s state-run broadcaster, China Radio International, also published a lengthy commentary on its website. “[It] will affect or even cost the country’s efforts to expand its exports to China and to attract more Chinese tourists.

This is the most direct harm the issue does to Canada,” the website said accusing Canada of siding with the U.S. The column goes on to read: “It is high time then for the Canadian side to size up the situation and take effective measures to avoid causing unnecessary troubles for its relationship with China. Canada does not have to set a trap for itself.”

Update 14/12/2018 5pm: The story was updated with a statement from Rogers.

Image credit: Flickr

Source: CBC