Sprint bans Huawei gear

Posted by Nick Farrell

The new McCarthyism which is infecting Washington at the moment has caused Sprint to dump the Chinese phone making equipment maker Huawei.

Despite the fact that US allies use Huawei and its security appears to be on a par with other telecom gear makers out there, the US is trying to get it banned.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Sprint promised him they will not buy telecommunications equipment from the Chinese company Huawei.

Rogers is making a name for himself by claiming that the Chinese government could use Huawei, the world's largest telecom equipment maker, to tap into US communications networks and spy on people in the United States.

As we reported yesterday, Rogers has managed to get a ban against Chinese manufacturers getting government contracts, but in this case it looks like he is pressuring even private companies.

The evidence for this is that the company's CEO Ren Zhengfei was once a member of the Chinese military two decades ago.

Rogers said that he had also managed to spoil a deal between SoftBank and Sprint. Softbank uses a lot of Huawei gear in its Clearwire network which Sprint says will be replaced. Federal regulators had been sniffing around the deal and it seems that that the promise to dump Huawei will make them go away.

Rogers added that he was pleased with Sprint's mitigation plans, and he will be continuing to look at ways to improve the government's existing authorities to thoroughly review all the national security aspects of proposed transactions.

In other words he is using "security considerations" to ban everything made which is branded by Chinese companies.

Huawei was tarred and feathered by the US Intelligence Committee after it failed to provide detailed information about their ties to the Chinese Communist Party. Part of the problem was that Huawei does not have any ties to the Chinese Communist Party; in fact its CEO was banned from party membership. Huawei has insisted that the report's claims are baseless.

Bill Plummer, a spokesperson for Huawei, said the company hasn't been involved in the review of the Sprint-Softbank deal. He warned that pressuring Sprint to promise not to partner with Huawei would "set a nasty protectionist precedent that could be used against American companies in other markets".

He pointed out to the Hill that given that all suppliers rely on common global supply chains and are subject to common vulnerabilities, it would seem unlikely that any government would blackball any one supplier because that government would know full well that this would do absolutely nothing to address security concerns.

Plummer added that the US approach was a market-distorting political, protectionist exercise and one that would require American telecommunications carriers and consumers to sacrifice world-leading technology, innovative, competitive and affordable broadband, as well as jobs and inward investment.