Huawei has issued a statement confirming that a ban is in place, preventing the company from providing 5G to the Australian market, in a move it calls ‘politically motivated’ rather than in the ‘long-term interests of the Australian people.’
The statement followed a joint media release from Australian minister for communications and the arts, Mitch Fifield and treasurer Scott Morrison which alluded to ‘significant national security concerns.’ The media release referred to last year’s introduction of the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR), which are designed to provide a framework for Australia’s security agencies and industry to share sensitive information on threats to telecommunications networks.
It also revealed new measures including: a security obligation, which requires carriers and carriage service providers to protect their networks and facilities against threats to national security from unauthorised access or interference; a notification requirement, which requires carriers and nominated carriage service providers to tell government of any proposed changes to their telecommunications systems or services that are likely to have a material adverse effect on their capacity to comply with their security obligation; the ability for government to obtain more detailed information from carriers and carriage service providers in certain circumstances to support the work of the Critical Infrastructure Centre; and the ability to intervene and issue directions in cases where there are significant national security concerns that cannot be addressed through other means.
Morrison said: ‘The government’s TSSR, which commence on September 18, place obligations on telecommunications companies to protect Australian networks from unauthorised interference or access that might prejudice our national security.’
The media release went on to add that the government ‘considers that the involvement of vendors who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law, may risk failure by the carrier to adequately protect a 5G network from unauthorised access or interference.’ While no markets or companies were mentioned by name, Huawei confirmed via its Huawei Australia Twitter account that ‘we have been informed by the govt that Huawei & ZTE have been banned from providing 5G technology to Australia.’
The company has now released a full statement, claiming the decision is ‘not the result of a fact-based, transparent, or equitable decision-making process. It is not aligned with the long-term interests of the Australian people, and denies Australian businesses and consumers the right to choose from the best communications technology available.’
The statement went on to add: ‘A non-competitive market will raise the cost of network construction and have lasting effects on Australia’s transition to a digital economy. In the end, everyday businesses and consumers are the ones who will suffer the most from the government’s actions. Huawei is one of the core developers behind 5G. The Australian government recognises the massive benefits that 5G technology will bring to Australia’s economy, and yet it has restricted the use of Huawei’s technology. Innovation works because innovators are rewarded for their work, but the government has effectively denied Huawei a right to compete for a return on our investment.’
Huawei said that it has presented the government with an independent, third-party expert analysis of the Chinese laws in question and argues that a ‘mistaken and narrow understanding of Chinese law should not serve as the basis for concerns about Huawei’s business.’ It urged the Australian government to take an ‘objective and fact-based approach to security issues’, and to work together on effective long-term solutions. ‘Open dialogue, joint innovation, and close collaboration,’ said the statement, ‘are essential to the ongoing development of the telecommunications industry.’