Light Reading

US Senators Stir Up Huawei Security Concerns

Robert Clark
News Analysis
Robert Clark

Senior US lawmakers are once again raising security concerns about the deployment of Huawei equipment in communications networks, but this time the focus of their concerns is across the Pacific Ocean and relates to a contract to supply 4G LTE radio access network gear to South Korean operator LG Uplus.

In a letter leaked to several Washington news bureaux, Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, have said the deal undermines the US alliance with South Korea.

"Maintaining the integrity of telecommunications infrastructure is critical to the operational effectiveness of this important security alliance," they noted in a November 27 letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and James Clapper, President Barack Obama's Director of National Intelligence.

US officials reportedly told the Wall Street Journal they were concerned about close security partners such as South Korea integrating Huawei into their national telecom networks, especially given the number of US troops deployed there.

"This is their IT infrastructure. There isn't really a role for the US government to necessarily advise them. But our concerns are significant enough that we wanted to make sure that they know what we know," an unnamed official said.

Huawei's response displays a modicum of frustration. "We cannot see any justification for these groundless, false claims, which we have seen several times before. We are concerned about such comments interfering in the ongoing business activities of Huawei and our customers," said a Huawei spokesman in an email to Light Reading.

Political theater?
However, the letter may be more about political theater. It comes from Congress, not the White House, and the leak appears to have been timed to put maximum pressure on Vice President Biden, who has been holding key talks in Tokyo and Beijing this week over China's newly declared air defense zone in the East China Sea.

There's no suggestion that the Obama administration plans to directly challenge the LG Uplus contract, just as it has not challenged Huawei's role as a supplier to SoftBank Corp. in Japan (See Unknown Document 705875.)

If the situation escalates, however, it may raise questions over Huawei's role in the markets of other US allies such as Australia, where, although excluded from the NBN (national broadband network), Huawei has been told it can bid for 4G contracts. (See Australian Govt Confirms Huawei Ban.)

Huawei confirmed earlier this year it was exiting the US market, having been blocked in its attempt acquisition of 3Com and warned it would not be allowed to win major wireless contracts. (See Huawei Gives Up on US Telecom.)

LG Uplus, the smallest South Korean operator, last month tapped Huawei, Samsung, Ericsson-LG, and NSN to build its LTE network. The company said that Huawei's involvement presented no risk because its "mobile networks are managed directly by LG Uplus officials."

Lee Dong-ho, a telecom official in the Korean Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, told Reuters that Huawei was providing equipment in accordance with local regulations, and the ministry had systems in place to monitor security breaches. He added that the Ministry had no plans to look into the Huawei deal.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

(5)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/14/2013 | 12:31:19 AM
Re: Isolationism
Well said Medyk, although one can argue that the US is already isolated although allies and other countries play along due to our economic & military power, but with China becoming more influential economically that hold is already fraying.
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2013 | 8:08:45 PM
Re: US exit
They're definitely not exiting the US handset market, and I think they still have contracts with some smaller operators that they need to support. So there will be a continued Huawei presence but they've officially given up on the carrier and enterprise market.
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2013 | 5:48:19 PM
If the U.S. starts redlining national networks that include Huawei equipment, it could end up being as isolated as ... North Korea.
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2013 | 11:44:35 AM
Entire Huawei Spying Affair Has Been Rather Silly
There is so much theater here it's hard to know where to start. I don't think I've seen one bit of actual hard evidence of Huawei spying, even though the government conducted a 14 month investigation into it. Also, the Washington Post in 2012 strongly suggested a lot of the spying whisper campaigns were originating with Cisco.

That's not to saying Huawei isn't spying, but the company just announced they were effectively giving up on U.S. markets. Factoring in our credibility regarding the entire Snowden affair, our repeated accusations come out as protectionist, nationalist, hypocritical and just kind of silly.

It really seems to come down to Cisco and others paying Congress to keep a competitor out of the U.S. market, since they're all likely cooperating with intelligence agencies of one stripe or another.
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2013 | 11:03:01 AM
US exit
Have they officially exited the US market? This is something we've been hearing a lot about, and we've seen Ren Zhengfei make some enigmatic statements (the mystery aided by possibly imprecise translation), but where does this stand in terms of having offices and people in the US and/or having conversations with potential customers?
Educational Resources
sponsor supplied content
Educational Resources Archive
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.