Huawei stepped up its fight against a ban on participating in Australian 5G network rollouts, warning billions of dollars of investment and 1,500 jobs were at risk if the block remained.

At its annual Supplier Summit, taking place today (2 December) in Sydney, Huawei warned representatives of its 50 Australian suppliers that its order book would likely run dry by end-2020 as a result of the prohibition.

In a statement, Huawei noted it had invested close to AUD1 billion ($678 million) “over the last couple of years with local contractors on building out mobile infrastructure” for Australian operators.

“Our suppliers are overwhelmingly small- to medium-sized business employing around 30 people and in many cases Huawei is currently delivering around 80 per cent of their annual revenues,” Jeremy Mitchell, director of corporate and public affairs stated.

The 5G ban would mean “huge trouble” for these companies, making job losses likely at Huawei’s direct contractors and their local sub-contractors over the next 18 months, Mitchell said.

It is the latest move by Huawei to overturn a government decision made in August 2018 which effectively blocks it from bidding for 5G work due to national security concerns.

Early last month, it warned politicians Australia was already falling behind other nations in deploying the next-generation technology and faced higher costs by stifling competition.

Legal challenge
The vendor added it engaged local law company Xenophon-Davis as strategic counsel, tasked with handling its defence against what it branded as “malicious and false attacks designed to cause us reputational damage”.

The legal company will work with Huawei’s corporate affairs staff to “help us challenge false and misleading statements made about Huawei by entities with strong vested interests” while also helping “provide a more fact-based conversation in the national media”.

Mitchell noted the appointment was part of an effort to “make sure the important discussion around cybersecurity is based on facts and not baseless innuendo that is unfortunately dominating the current discussion”.