Huawei pulled no punches in response to a move by Australia’s government which effectively locks it out of 5G infrastructure rollouts, stating the decision is politically motivated and would ultimately harm consumers.

In a statement, the China-based vendor said the government’s decision was not founded on a “fact-based, transparent or equitable decision-making process” and is out of alignment with “the long-term interests of the Australian people” because it limits the technology choices available.

“A non-competitive market will raise the cost of network construction and have lasting effects on Australia’s transition to a digital economy,” it explained.

While not specifically banning Huawei and its compatriot ZTE, forthcoming Australian government regulation disqualifies any vendor “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government”, unless companies are capable of protecting 5G networks from “unauthorised access or interference”.

Huawei hit back, stating Chinese law does not give its country’s government any authority to require telecoms companies “to install backdoors or listening devices” or otherwise act in a manner which “might compromise the telecommunications equipment of other nations”.

In what also appeared to be a swing at US politicians, which recently ordered government departments not to source equipment from ZTE or Huawei, the vendor noted a “mistaken and narrow understanding of Chinese law should not serve as the basis for concerns about Huawei’s business”. The company has long denied allegations it has ties to China’s government and emphasised it “has never been asked to engage in intelligence work on behalf of any government”.

Existing presence
Huawei alluded to the fact it had already been a key supplier of 4G infrastructure to Australian operators, noting there is “no fundamental difference between 5G and 4G network architecture” because core and access networks “are still separated”. Indeed, the next generation technology contains more stringent privacy and security protections than its predecessors, it stated.

The company’s argument consumers and businesses will be harmed by the de-facto ban appears to carry some weight. Telecoms consultant Paul Budde told The Sydney Morning Herald the ban could raise the cost of network equipment by at least 30 per cent, an increase operators would ultimately pass on to consumers.

Huawei stated robust competition is an essential part of strong economic growth for any country: it accused Australia’s government of undermining “the principles of competition and non-discrimination in fair trade”.

It added that because the government had not detailed specific concerns over Huawei’s “governance, security, or suitability to safely and securely connect business in Australia” it was difficult to address its anxieties. The vendor pledged to “continue to engage with the Australian government” and to “take all possible measures to protect our legal rights and interests”.