Bell Says Potential Huawei Ban Won’t Delay 5G Network Launch

Canada’s federal government has yet to decide whether or not to ban Chinese company Huawei from the country’s 5G networks, despite pressure from allies. This looming decision means Telus and Bell—which are working with Huawei for 5G trials—may be affected by such a ban.

But during today’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Bell CEO George Cope told investors the company’s 5G network plans will go ahead, even if Huawei is banned.

“We clearly recognize the issues at play, and we’ll manage those appropriately going forward and of course, follow the law,” said Cope, adding “We’ve made no selection yet of our 5G vendor” (via Bloomberg).

Cope went on to say, “If there was a ban or we chose a different supplier than Huawei for 5G, we’re quite comfortable all those developments would be addressed within our traditional capital intensity envelope and therefore, no impact from a capital expenditure program outlook.” He added, “Nor do we think whatever the outcome is would it in any way impact our timing in the market for 5G.”

Bell saw its wireless earnings rise 4.6% in the fourth quarter to $2.25 billion in revenue. Wireless net postpaid subscribers for the quarter were at 121,780, down 31% year on year.

Security experts predict Canada will likely ban Huawei from 5G networks, over concerns of espionage and the latter’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

The federal government will most likely release their decision on a Huawei ban, pending the outcome of arrested CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver, who currently faces a U.S. extradition request.

Last month, Bell instructed employees at retail locations to reassure customers, saying there were “no concerns” with Huawei smartphones.

Recent comments by some Canadians on Huawei have stated there is “more downside risk than upside”, according to opinions stated to The Globe and Mail.