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Canada bans Huawei from 5G. Huawei responds – not really

Accoring to Bloomberg, a government official said they will be announcing it later on Thursday. Another source said there will be an announcement but did not reveal the decision.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dragged his feet on this issue for a long time making Canada the last Five Eyes nation to prohibit the Chinese Telecommunications Communications giant from participating in their network infrastructure.

Ministers of Economic Development François-Philippe Champagne and Public Safety Marco Mendicino came together to announce the ban on Huawei and ZTE equipment from Canada’s 5G network.

The ban includes products and services from both Chinese-owned companies. Companies that already have components installed are being a few years to remove it from the network and replaced with another brand. Telecommunications companies will not be compensated for the changes.

“We are announcing our intention to prohibit the inclusion of Huawei and ZTE products and services in Canada’s telecommunications systems. This follows a full review by our security agencies and in consultation with our closest allies,” said Champagne. “We will always protect the safety and security of Canadians and we will take any actions necessary to safeguard our telecommunications infrastructure.”

Telecommunications companies in Canada will not be permitted to include in their networks products or services that put our national security at risk. Providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease it’s use and remove it under the plans we are announcing today. This will make our networks safer”

A reporter asked Champagne how deep in to the 5G network are they prohibiting the using of Huawei and ZTE products and services. Is the government requiring companies remove Huawei and ZTE from all parts of their networks or just a select section the government deems part of the 5G network.

“We have dates, we have processes in place” said Champagne and they will be meeting with the [telco’s] companies . He says there will be a time line for when they need to remove the equipment but didn’t answer the question if it is for all sections of the network or just the outside, the radio access network portion.

Huawei responds to Canadas 5G ban

Alykhan Velshi, VP of Huawei responded on a interview with CTV by saying they are disappointed with the decision for not allowing them to participate in the 5G network. However since the 5G review started in 2018 Huawei has sold $700 million worth of telecommunications equipment to the Canadian government.

According to Alykhan Velshi 5G ban only targets a small part of their business in Canada “We sell consumer products.” he said. “I think that the symbolism is much much more than the reality but yes you know we’re disappointed.”

When Alykhan Velshi, VP of Huawei was asked if Huawei will continue to do business in Canada or pull out or lobby the government.

“See the details of the legislation, Right? Because what the government has announced today is the intent the present time to introduce challenges to the Telecommunications Act which will have a number of impasses. We’ll have to see what the wording is, we’ll have to see , you know, how they are going to proceed”

What we know

The government of Canada is banning Huawei and ZTE from participating in the nations 5G network. The announcement is made for the intent to make changes to the Telecommunications Act.

Minister of Economic Development François-Philippe Champagne empathized “5G network”. Where does the 5G network start and end?

We don’t know, he just called this plan a “frame work” and didn’t give any details what layers of the telecommunications network the Huawei and ZTE products and services need to be replaced. The network backbone uses tens of thousands of routers to connect the 5G network to the wider Internet.

According to Alykhan Velshi, VP of Huawei the government of Canada is still deploying Huawei products and services to the network, Huawei hardware and software are still being utilized on the 5G network in the future.

Why is the ban only on the 5G network and not the Internet network when it’s just as important and the centre of communications between all Canadians that use the Internet? No reporters asked at the release.

Huawei can still sell consumer products in Canada like smartphones, network routers, computers, laptops tablet and smart watches.

The security concerns and recommendations

Several Canadian telecommunications companies including Bell and Telus ditched Huawei from their networks and signed contracts with Nokia and Ericsson for their 5G infrastructure over concerns that Beijing could use the tech as a backdoor to spy on Canadians and Canadas government.

Many experts have spoken out and cited concerns of the relationship between Huawei and the the Chinese government. Beijing passed laws that require private entities to cooperate with the country’s intelligence operations.

Ward Elcock, a former CSIS director, is among many who have raised concerns about the dangers of allowing Huawei onto Canada’s network.

“The state in China being what it is, even though Huawei is an independent company … [the government] would have the capacity to ask and demand Huawei’s assistance in collecting intelligence,” said Elcock in 2020.

Canada has been lobbied for years by its close allies to ban Huawei from the nations 5G network amid security concerns. The U.S. warned they will need to reconsider their in intelligence sharing with any country that uses Huawei. Canadas allies in the Five Eyes cited worry for their nations security and protecting themselves against foreign spying and espionage.

The FBI first warned about cybersecurity threats using Huawei for infrastructure in 2018. After the warning went out Australia and New Zealand banned Huawei in 2018. Followed by the United States and U.K in 2019, finally several years later Canada bans Huawei and ZTE in 2022.

Ward Elcock, a former CSIS director, told CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Thursday that he believes China will retaliate in some way.

“It’s likely that there will be some sort of retaliation. What that will be is pretty hard to guess but it could come in almost any form,” he said, pointing to moments in the past when China has punished Canada by imposing trade restrictions.

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