Globe Telecom, a Philippines-based network operator that counts Huawei Technologies as a key supplier, said that concerns over the potential threat posed by the Chinese company to national security were overblown “to a certain extent” and that it was pushing ahead with a planned roll-out of fifth-generation (5G) commercial services in the second quarter of this year.
“They may provide the equipment, but we run the network and so we know what passes over our network, what goes through it,” Globe Telecom president and chief executive Ernest Lawrence Cu said in a phone interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.
“We’re very confident that we’re well protected,” he said, as the company had been given a “clean bill of health” by UK and Israeli consultants hired to conduct extensive checks of the network “with regards to back doors, Trojan horses and stuff like that.”
The vote of confidence comes as more European telecom companies review their plans to use Huawei over concerns that governments could ban the vendor. The US government has been pushing its allies to block the Chinese company, citing fears that its equipment could be used for spying, something that its executives have strenuously denied.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that America may be forced to scale back certain operations in Europe and elsewhere if countries continue to do business with Huawei.
He was speaking in Budapest on the first leg of a five-nation European tour during which he said he would raise US concerns about China and Russia’s growing influence in central Europe.
UK-based Vodafone Group last month suspended purchases of Huawei equipment for the core of its wireless networks while it is in talks with various agencies, governments and the Chinese company. BT Group is removing Huawei equipment from the core of the mobile network. Deutsche Telekom, Europe’s biggest carrier, is also reviewing its procurement strategy.
In Australia, TPG Telecom dropped its plan to build the country’s fourth mobile network after the government banned Huawei equipment.
Globe Telecom said in June 2018 that it would start rolling out 5G services this year. The company signed several agreements in October 2016 with Huawei, Nokia and Wuhan Fiberhome worth about US$750 million over a five-year period to accelerate the use of new LTE technologies and increase broadband capacity.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had witnessed the signing of agreements in Beijing as part of his four-day state visit then.
“We selected Huawei as our single vendor of choice in 2010 when we did our full network transformation,” Cu said in the Bloomberg Television interview. “They have been a very key partner for us in our ascendance to No. 1 in the wireless business. We continue to have very tight relationship with them.”
More from South China Morning Post:
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns America might scale back European partnerships if countries continue business with Huawei
- Why pick on Huawei when all advanced technologies, including those from the US, carry security risks?
- China-EU 5G research project to continue despite growing concerns about Huawei
- Thailand launches Huawei 5G test bed despite US calls on allies to ban use of Chinese gear