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AT&T CEO talks tough about HUAWEI, 5G, and 'being cautious'

AT&T's CEO, during a recent speech in Washington, had quite a bit to say about HUAWEI's 5G business.

Published onMarch 25, 2019

  • At a recent speech, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson talked about 5G network deployment and HUAWEI’s involvement.
  • Stephenson opined that 5G is too important to leave in the hands of just any company, although he didn’t directly accuse HUAWEI of any wrongdoing.
  • Stephenson also discussed HUAWEI’s grip over Europe, accusing the company of purposefully locking other companies out of the running.

During a recent speech in Washington, via The Epoch Times, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson talked a bit about Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Stephenson didn’t mince words when discussing HUAWEI’s tenacious grip on the global market.

When discussing the European market, Stephenson accused HUAWEI of locking itself into future contracts by making its network hardware incompatible with hardware from other suppliers. “If you have deployed HUAWEI as your 4G network, HUAWEI is not allowing interoperability to 5G — meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with HUAWEI for 5G,” he said during the speech. “When the Europeans say we got a problem — that’s their problem. They really don’t have an option to go to somebody else.”

The United States government is encouraging European nations to ditch HUAWEI when it comes to upgrading their networks to 5G, sometimes even holding trade deals in limbo and using HUAWEI support as a bargaining chip. However, ditching HUAWEI could prove too costly for some nations because of the problems Stephenson references.

HUAWEI has shipped 10 million Mate 20 series smartphones

The U.S. has accused HUAWEI of violating international trade laws, fraud, and repeatedly suggested that the company is a spying front for the Chinese government. However, Stephenson didn’t appear to think those issues were the primary reason for avoiding HUAWEI’s network business.

“The biggest risk is not that the Chinese government might listen in on our conversations or mine our data if we use [Huawei’s] equipment,” Stephenson said. Rather, since 5G will revolutionize multiple industries — from the automobile industry to manufacturing to utilities — countries need to remember that whoever controls the 5G network will have a lot of power over those industries.

“If that much of infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology? We damn well better be,” Stephenson said.

To its credit, HUAWEI has repeatedly denied spying allegations and recently filed a suit against the U.S. related to its accusations to the contrary.

The United States will not use any HUAWEI technology for its 5G networks, instead relying on Nordic companies Ericsson and Nokia.

NEXT: HUAWEI reacts after it’s caught using DSLR photos for its P30 campaign

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