Telus: Huawei Not a Security Risk, 5G Network Ban Would Be “Lost Opportunity”

An unnamed Telus executive has spoken out to The Vancouver Sun regarding Chinese mobile equipment and device manufacturer, Huawei and security concerns.

According to a Telus executive speaking on background, Huawei is not a security risk for Canadians because the country’s Communications Security Establishment keeps checks and balances on the Chinese company’s network equipment and software.

The reason you don’t hear about Telus talking about Huawei and security to the media is due to non-disclosure agreements with the federal government.

“We don’t talk about it publicly because, frankly, we’re under non-disclosure with the government,” the unnamed Telus executive told Postmedia in an interview.

Telus says Huawei networking equipment is not used on their core network, while the latter’s computer code is also submitted for review, which means any sort of backdoor would apparently be hard to hide. Huawei is being accused by the U.S. and its allies of being a conduit for the Chinese government to eavesdrop on communications networks.

But we’re safe, according to the Telus executive, saying “You really can’t keep secrets,” adding, “There is enough wherewithal, enough tools in place, that limit or protect us.”

While Telus has tested Huawei 5G successfully at its Living Lab in Vancouver, the company says it has not made any major orders for 5G equipment for its next-generation network.

“We don’t have a lot of 5G equipment deployed, because it’s fairly nascent,” said the anonymous Telus executive. “Having said that, most of the (earlier-generation) equipment we have deployed is software upgradeable.”

Telus added “Huawei doesn’t have a lock on our 5G business,” noting there are other suppliers available.

According to Telus, Huawei has a step up on its competitors, with an innovation lead time of at least 12-18 months. Any ban on Huawei for 5G networks in Canada would be seen as “a bit of a lost opportunity.”

The federal government is currently undergoing a security review of Canada’s future 5G networks, but according to Bloomberg, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision on whether or not to ban Huawei is still months away, but expected to be announced before the fall federal election.

Canada’s allies including the United States, Australia and New Zealand—part of the Five Eyes allies—have already banned Huawei.

“We will be taking appropriate decisions in due course,” said the office of Ralph Goodale, the minister of public safety. “The safety and security of Canadians is our paramount concern.”

Earlier this week, China’s ambassador warned Canada not going to ban Huawei, or face the possibility of unspecific repercussions.

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