Eurobites: Huawei Refused to Close Vodafone's 'Backdoor' – Report

Paul Rainford
News Analysis
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Iliad fined by French stock market regulator; ARM gets new CFO; Safaricom's Collymore steps down; Telenor's Q1.

  • Vodafone's Italian unit found software "backdoors" in Huawei gear back in 2011 which the Chinese vendor refused to remove on the grounds that they were needed for testing and device configuration, according to a Bloomberg report that has ratcheted up the ongoing Huawei hoo-ha several notches. The report cites unidentified people who were involved in security discussions between the two companies at the time, who claim that the backdoor vulnerabilities remained in Vodafone's routers and fixed access network beyond 2012, and that Vodafone kept on using Huawei equipment in the face of these security issues because the gear was so competitively priced. Furthermore, the same vulnerabilities were also present in Vodafone's operations in the UK, Germany, Spain and Portugal, say the sources. (See Huawei 5G Bans Highlight Network Confusion and Vodafone CEO: Huawei Ban Equals Two-Year 5G Delay.)

  • And in more bad news for Vodafone, its UK unit has been named and shamed for not paying its suppliers on time. The Chartered Institute of Credit Management (CICM) has suspended Vodafone UK from its Prompt Payment Code, a government-backed scheme that lists thousands of companies that pledge to "uphold its best practice for payment standards." Vodafone, like the other 11 companies on the CICM's naughty step, has promised to mend its ways.

  • France's Iliad and its chairman, Maxime Lombardini, have been fined a total of 700,000 (US$785,291) by the French stock market regulator for supplying incorrect financial information relating to a number of deals in 2014, Reuters reports.

  • UK chip design firm ARM, which is owned by Japan's SoftBank, has appointed a new chief financial officer. Inder M. Singh joins ARM from Unisys. Part of the attraction for Singh was a chance to return to UK, where, intriguingly, he was a "student in a hill-top castle-like boarding school in the Midlands," according his first-day-in-the-job blog post.

  • Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore is set to step down later this year, according to a Reuters report which also suggests there is uncertainty over the plans to replace him. Collymore had returned to run Kenya's leading operator after several months of sick leave, but ongoing health issues have forced him to step down, says the report. For more on the debate over who should replace him, see this story on our sister site, Connecting Africa.

  • Norway's Telenor is claiming a "solid" start to the year, with first-quarter revenue up 0.3% year-on-year to 27.64 billion Norwegian kroner ($3.20 billion) and EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) down from NOK11.34 billion ($1.31 billion) to NOK11.17 billion ($1.29 billion) this time around. Earlier this month Telenor bought DNA, Finland's third-largest mobile operator, as part of a plan to strengthen its position in the Nordics. (See Eurobites: Telenor Buys DNA for Finnish Foray.)

  • Telensa, a UK-based specialist in wireless smart-city applications, is to collaborate with the digital arm of Samsung, Samsung SDS, on various smart-city projects, the first of which will involve smart street lighting in South Korea.

  • Bouygues Telecom has chosen AirTies' gateway software and mesh extenders in a bid to improve the WiFi experience of its broadband subscribers across France.

    Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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