Saturday 19 October 2019

SoftBank turns its back on Huawei


Chinese company Huawei has come under pressure from the US. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Chinese company Huawei has come under pressure from the US. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Pavel Alpeyev and Takahiko Hyuga

Softbank's Japanese telecom unit has selected Nokia and Ericsson as vendors for its next-generation wireless network, excluding long-time supplier Huawei. SoftBank named Nokia as a strategic partner for 5G rollout and Ericsson as a supplier of radio access network equipment, the companies said in separate releases.

Huawei, which together with ZTE was a 4G vendor for the Japanese company, wasn't selected despite participating in earlier 5G trials. SoftBank declined further comment.

US President Donald Trump's administration has targeted Huawei for months, first encouraging allies to ban the Chinese company's equipment from their networks and then putting Huawei on an export blacklist that prohibits it from buying American software and components.

Australia and New Zealand have prohibited Chinese gear from their networks, while Japan has said it will exclude equipment with security risks without making an official decision on Huawei. Local media have reported the country's top three carriers - NTT Docomo, SoftBank and KDDI - will shun Huawei and ZTE.

"You can also expect Docomo and KDDI to follow suit,'' said Masahiko Ishino, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Centre. "So SoftBank isn't going to be at a cost disadvantage.''

The phone companies are also scrapping plans to sell Huawei handsets as the impact of a US supply ban spreads. The Chinese company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

BT in the UK announced plans to remove Huawei gear from the core of its mobile network soon after the head of Britain's foreign intelligence agency MI6 said the US had warned it about the risks of using Chinese equipment.


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