AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson (pictured) argued the US government’s concerns about the presence of Huawei equipment in 5G networks are valid, but conceded officials are doing a poor job of articulating why the Chinese vendor poses a risk.
Speaking at an event hosted by The Economic Club of Washington DC, Stephenson said the issue is not so much about the threat of the Chinese government listening-in on phone conversations or mining data as it is about thoroughly vetting a company whose equipment will underpin vast swathes of connected infrastructure.
In a 5G world, he noted, telecom equipment will be the backbone for traffic management, utilities and other critical applications: “If that much of our infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology? We damn well better be.”
Huawei has vehemently denied it poses a security threat.
Stephenson claimed European countries have been more hesitant than the US to blacklist the vendor because operators using Huawei for 4G are effectively locked in to use its equipment for 5G: “That’s their problem. They really don’t have the option to go to somebody else.”
Like T-Mobile US, Stephenson said AT&T will not use Huawei equipment for its 5G network.
When asked if phone bills would decrease in a 5G world, Stephenson jokingly replied “I hope not”.
He added it is conceivable users may pay more for different speed tiers in the future, but said the operator hasn’t yet worked out its 5G pricing strategy.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back