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SlideshowHuawei Controversy Pits Spooks Against CSPs

It's Complicated
Nick Read, Vodafone's CEO, worries that a debate about the security of Huawei equipment has been too simplistic.
Nick Read, Vodafone's CEO, worries that a debate about the security of Huawei equipment has been too simplistic.

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1/28/2019 | 12:10:47 PM
Thank you -- great coverage.
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1/29/2019 | 5:09:40 AM
Never forget the power of perception
Vodafone is taking a very mature approach to all of this.

But ultimatey that mature approach might -- and I stress, MIGHT -- bite it in the balance sheet.

Because perception counts for a lot. Already, in private conversations, we hear about network operators deciding not to engage with Huawei at all, at any level, because taking that approach makes negotiations with government customers, and those that have to do business with governments, much simpler and easier -- there are no questions to answer about perceived security issues related to the deployment of equipment from a Chinese vendor that is under the global spotlight.

Even the idea that a network operator might be doing business with a company that is perceived to be a security threat is enough to put doubt in the minds of decision-makers.

And that is where we are in the world. 

On the other hand - Huawei, for all its faults (and EVERY company has its faults), has the products and support that many network operators want and need to be able to deliver against their strategies and their customers' needs. Yes, the equivalent can be sourced elsewhere, but those alternatives may not be as good, the professiobal services and support may not be as good, the 'partnership' may not be as good, and the economics certainly may not be as good.

So it's a very tough call, espceially if a network operator has worked with Huawei for years and not encountered any unusual or deal-breaking problems.

Vodafone's approach of moving away from Huawei's core network tech might just work -- but explaining to influential people who do not have an understanding of communications networking that such a move  should resolve any security concerns, and CONVINCING THEM to make a decision that is counter to the over-riding perception that Chinese tech cmpanies are not to be trusted on anything, is not going to be easy.

It's great that Read has shared his thoughts. Let's hope he will do so again in 6 or 12 months and provide some insight into whether this approach has paid off, both in terms of Vodafone's needs and in terms of customer/partner/political engagement.     
Gabriel Brown
Gabriel Brown
1/29/2019 | 5:59:43 AM
Re: Never forget the power of perception
Vodafone is fairly sophisticated about this. For instance, in the UK, where it has a lot of government and large enterprise business, it is primarily an Ericsson shop. In other markets where it is a challenger and the goverment business is with the ex-incumbent it is more lilkey to use Huawei -- for instance, in Spain.

It also makes a distinction between RAN and core. It is in the RAN where the mooted restrictions on Huawei would really hit European operators hard.

Some kind of accomodation along these lines seems most lilkey at this stage. But then, who knows...!
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