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COMMENT: Huawei 5G Ambitions Fail The Pub Test

When the issue over security, Chinese 5G telecommunication networks being built for Optus and Vodafone and the security of handsets made by Chinese manufacturers such as Oppo, ZTE and Huawei blew up recently I decided to put the issue to the pub test, firstly at the Beuna pub in Mosman NSW, then at an RSL club.

At both locations the reaction was identical.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 08: An attendee photographs a 5G logo display during a Qualcomm press event for CES 2018 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 8, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world’s largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs from January 9-12 and features about 3,900 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to more than 170,000 attendees. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

At the Beuna the audience was made up of working professional people, solicitors, judges, doctors and small business owners as well as retirees. This audience overwhelmingly (90%) said that the Australian Government should be taking action immediately to stop Optus and Vodafone from contracting Huawei a Chinese telecommunications Company from being a supplier.

Of those who had smartphones connected to an Optus or Vodafone network 78% said that they would switch to Telstra who are working with Nokia and Ericsson to build out a future 5G network.

At the RSL club where the audience were retirees, blue collar workers and females the reaction was almost hostile especially when it came to the use of Chinese smartphones that in the past have been found to house software that polled China based servers with information about their owners.

This audience overwhelmingly said that they would not buy a Chinese made handset knowing what they have read recently in Australian news outlets and online.

At both the RSL and the local BV the audiences said that there is a “real risk” to national security when it came to the use of Chinese made telecommunication products which US security experts have said are “potentially spying opportunities”.

Earlier today the Federal Government said that Huawei’s involvement in Australia’s new 5G mobile phone networks will require a full national security assessment by the Home Affairs Department, even after the Chinese equipment supplier was last year included in a key government advisory body.

Just days after US security agencies briefed Malcolm Turnbull on concerns they had about Huawei building 5G networks in Australia, the federal government has sought to qualify the Chinese vendor’s involvement.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said Huawei’s role on a government-led 5G working group, announced in late December, did not necessarily mean the company would be able to supply equipment to the new networks.

“All major Telcos, vendors and industry groups were invited to attend [the working group],” the spokesman said. “The working group provides a forum for discussion around regulatory settings. It is not a forum for security issues nor is it a decision-making body.”

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