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June 19, 2019
Some might assume the suspicion which is being placed on Huawei might work out well for its competitors, but that is certainly not the case.
In certain markets, there are clear benefits to having Huawei as the political punching bag of the technology world, the US is a prime example. Huawei is banned in the US, but it has never really made a profitable charge in the Land of the Freeand Home of the Brave and look at Ericsson’s wins with Verizon in the pre-standard 5G world. But it can also be a negative.
“It’s bad for us as well,” said Nokia UK CEO Cormac Whelan. “It throws a cloud over technology, networks rollout and security.”
Whelan’s example to demonstrate this point is an effective one. When Volkswagen got caught red-handed in the emissions scandal, it wasn’t too long before questions were asked about others in the automotive industry. The Huawei security issue is not directly comparable, but Nokia and Ericsson are certainly being caught in the wake of this scandal, especially in the UK because of the uncertainty being created.
Who is benefitting from the increased scrutiny and uncertainty which is building in the UK? No-one. Without any end in sight for the on-going Supply Chain Review, telcos do not want to spend money on 5G infrastructure. They don’t want to spend on Huawei in case they have to rip and replace, and they do not want to spend on anyone else as they might be able to buy Huawei. The uncertainty is holding the UK telco industry to ransom.
And of course, you have to wonder what the impact might be on consumer adoption of 5G.
“The impact is starting to trickle down onto the high-street,” said Paolo Pescatore of PP Foresight. “This could have a negative impact on the consumer adoption of 5G.”
The more security propaganda which is pumped into the news by the US, the more of a shadow which is cast on 5G. Everyone in the industry is being dragged into the storm of security sceptics; this is what uncertainty and pro-longed umming and erring does. How long will it be before consumers start paying attention? Will this prevent users from upgrading to 5G contracts if all the messaging is drawing attention to security inadequacies?
This is not to say the UK should rush a decision however.
“We don’t want the Government to rush a decision,” said BT Chief Architect Neil McRae on the main stage at Connected Britain. “We want them to get it right.”
However, there is going to be a point where it becomes frustrating and causes more damage than good. The longer the review takes, the longer the telcos have to wait before networks can be rolled out and the more controversy which is created around the topic of 5G.
Looking at Ericsson and Nokia, they might well be dragged further into the chaos than they would want to be. During a Science and Technology Committee investigation recently, Nokia’s Steve Sampson and Ericsson’s Mikko Karikyto were asked whether they would be happy to fund a security initiative on par with the Huawei Cybersecurity Evaluation Centre. This is an expense neither would want to make unless forced, but it is a possibility.
This session between the Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia executives and the Committee also demonstrate the point of putting the fear into consumers. During the meeting, Labour MP Graham Stringer compared Huawei to IG Farben, the German firm which manufactured the gas used in Nazi concentration camps. Huawei might well be proven a threat before too long, but this is an exaggerated and unreasonable comparison which achieves nothing more than pompous PR points for the MP in question and further fuels the security myths surrounding 5G.
Huawei might be copping the biggest punches when it comes to security sceptics, but no-one is benefitting in this current state of purgatory.
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