As Australia seeks to construct a national high-speed internet network, and opens bids from companies for the contract for this construction, the government has stepped in to prevent Huawei from entering the bidding process
With government sources citing security concerns that have been raised as a consequence of hacking attempts and efforts in so-called cyber warfare, the prime minister of Australia is quoted as saying that the decision to block Huawei has been taken to ensure that the future network can operate efficiently and correctly.
High-speed internet networks, like digital voice networks and other data networks, rely on an infrastructure that includes contemporary switching equipment, as used to correctly route calls and data. Huawei is a significant global player in the manufacture and distribution of such equipment, but will now no longer be able to make proposals to take part in the massive construction programme planned in Australia, which is estimated to be worth approximately $38bn.
Huawei is said to have reacted with some surprise to the decision, claiming that it is already working closely with a number of major operators and service providers in the Australian telecommunications business. However, a number of reports have pinpointed concerns among Australian officials in the intelligence community who have identified China as being the source of a number of recent hacking attacks detected in Australia.
Concerns have also been voiced about the capability of China to engage in cyber warfare. These concerns are linked to a recent agreement between Australia and the US, according to which the two countries will include cyber security within their mutual defensive alliance.
Huawei claims to be participating in a number of infrastructure programmes for other western nations, including New Zealand and the UK, and has released a public statement seeking to ease any fears that might surround the security and transparency of its operations. However, the Australian government, which is looking at the projected fibre optic network to serve as much as 90 percent of the nation’s households, has declared that the programme is of crucial national importance.
The Australian decision has led to renewed interest in a number of questions that surround the controlling interests behind Huawei, which was originally founded by a former member of the Chinese military. However, even though the company has denied links to the military, details about the actual controllers of Huawei operations are said to remain incomplete.
Huawei has recently experienced similar difficulties in the US, where it has been prevented from participating in one national operator’s expansion plans and has been obliged to step back from acquiring a computer company, which again was based on security concerns. Even so, the Huawei portfolio is claimed by the company to extend to approximately 140 countries, with global half-yearly income in the region of $15bn.