Canada is currently the only member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network that has not officially blocked Huawei from 5G networks, but it’s effectively achieved that, delaying a decision long enough to force its telecom businesses to exclude the Chinese gear manufacturer.
The strategy allows Canada to keep on the right side of both China and the United States as they tussle over Huawei Technologies, say six well-placed resources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Canada and its Five Eyes allies, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia are under growing pressure from the US to squeeze out Huawei out of infrastructure projects on security grounds.
5G networks provide data speeds around 50 or even 100 times quicker than 4G systems and therefore are anticipated to power everything from tele-medicine and distant operation to self-driving cars.
Canada has been mulling whether to disbar the company’s next-generation gear for the greater part of two years, brushing off increasing indicators of industry impatience.
Back in June, Bell Canada and rival Telus Corp – 2 of the biggest wireless providers – teamed with Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Oyj to build 5G communications systems, ditching Huawei for the project despite using Huawei 4G gear.
“The absence of a solution will eventually settle all problems,” stated a source directly knowledgeable about the approach taken by the Liberal government of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.
Rogers Communications Inc, Canada’s other large wireless operator, declared in 2018 it was utilising Ericsson 5G equipment.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration said it would further tighten its restrictions on Huawei, aimed at cracking down on its access to commercially available chips.
Operators in Canada believe the US curbs mean they have no option but to sideline Huawei in 5G networks, at least now, say the sources, who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.
Staying on the ideal side of China has become an important concern. Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition to the USIn response, Beijing detained Canadian citizens Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, charging them with espionage. Canada says gaining their freedom is a high priority.
“If it weren’t for the two Michaels, Canada would have already said it would not be using Huawei 5G technology,” a diplomatic source said. Government officials deny the fate of both men is connected to 5G.
In 2018, both Australia and New Zealand blocked service providers from using Huawei 5G gear.
To be certain, Canada will one day make a determination. Two other people who have consulted with Canadian officials say they think it is only a matter of time before Ottawa unveils a ban.
But a source directly familiar with authorities believing stressed that Ottawa hadn’t yet come to a business decision and would not be rushed, adding that officials were taking their time to prevent Britain’s situation.
The British government said last month it would prohibit Huawei out of 5G networks by ordering organisations to eliminate the equipment by 2027. In January, it had originally said Huawei could have a limited 5G role.
The office of Canada Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains – who is officially charged with making a decision on Huawei and 5G – said in a statement it couldn’t comment on a certain company. It didn’t say when an announcement could be made.
A Bell spokesman noted that in May, CEO Mirko Bibic said he had no insights to government thinking on Huawei and 5G. Telus did not respond to a request for comment.
The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by David Ljunggren. Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa. Editing by Amran Abocar, Steve Scherer and Lisa Shumaker.
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