Australia to exclude telecom equipment suppliers with ties to foreign governments from its 5G market

Given that 5G will become a critical infrastructure since it will connect everything ranging from smart gadgets to automobiles, telecom equipment suppliers will be scrutinized for their ties to foreign governments.

In what could possibly explain Australia’s move to ban China’s Huawei from participating in the upcoming bid to provide 5G equipment, the head of Australia’s intelligence agencies have made it lucidly clear that Australia must restrict foreign firms with government ties from its 5G mobile communications network since it will be a critical infrastructure.

In August 2018, Australia expanded its national security rules to exclude telecommunication equipment suppliers that it believes have ties to foreign governments.

“5G technology will underpin the communications that Australians rely on every day, from our health systems and the potential applications of remote surgery, to self-driving cars and through to the operation of our power and water supply,” said Mike Burgess, director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate, in a rare public comments. “A potential threat anywhere in the network will be a threat to the whole network”.

Burgess did not mention Huawei or any other firm by name.

Huawei’s spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Historically, we have protected the sensitive information and functions at the core of our telecommunications networks by confining our high-risk vendors to the edge of our networks,” said Burgess. “But the distinction between core and edge collapses in 5G networks.”

Since years intelligence agencies across the globe had raised concerns regarding Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government, which significantly raises the risk of espionage.

In August 2018, the United States restricted access ZTE and Huawei from accessing its market for similar reasons.

Australia has Huawei from providing equipment for its fiber-optic network and has moved to block it from laying submarine cables in the Pacific as well.

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