Australian mobile operators called for talks with the federal government to discuss concerns about attempts to block Huawei from participating in construction of the country’s 5G networks.
Operators worry a ban would raise prices and reduce future 5G services. One operator representative said the price difference could be as much as 30 per cent and noted “Huawei technology had been consistently ahead of its competitors”, Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported.
The person noted blocking Chinese companies could give Ericsson and Nokia a duopoly for supplying network equipment.
Huawei is a major supplier of equipment for both Optus and Vodafone Australia, the country’s second and third largest mobile operators.
Security agencies are pushing the government to block Huawei from being involved in the network due to national security concerns, AFR reported. The opposition Labor party, which was in power when Huawei was banned from bidding on the National Broadband Network project in 2012, also recommended the government prevent the vendor participating in the 5G effort.
Shadow minister for defence Richard Marles said his party would listen to the security agencies’ call, ZD.net reported.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to decide on the matter soon, with Attorney-General Christian Porter saying there is a “process underway in which all companies, including Huawei, were being scrutinised on national security grounds”, AFR reported.
Earlier this week Huawei lost a contract to build a cable linking Sydney to the Solomon Islands.
In early June Huawei Australia chairman John Lord defended the company against accusations national security could be at risk from the vendor’s involvement in 5G rollouts. Lord reiterated earlier comments from colleagues stating there were no security issues with Huawei’s equipment, adding the business was owned by its employees with no stake owned by the Chinese state.
He also noted it supplies infrastructure to operators in Canada, the UK, France and Italy.