Canada to ban Huawei from country’s 5G network: sources

The decision is expected to be announced later today by Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne and Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino

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OTTAWA — The Canadian government will ban equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from the country’s 5G and 4G wireless networks, following a three-year review.

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“Telecom companies in Canada will not be allowed to include products or services in their networks that put our national security at risk,” Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Thursday.

“Vendors who have already installed this equipment will be required to discontinue its use and remove it.”

With this decision, Canada is aligning itself with its allies in the Five Eyes intelligence network – the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom – which have all already banned or restricted Huawei equipment from their 5G networks.

The Liberals have been promising a decision on the Huawei ban for three years. Asked why it took so long, Champagne said: “It was never a race. It’s about making the right decision. »

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During this period, Canada’s major telecom companies have begun building standalone 5G networks using equipment from other vendors, meaning the ban on Huawei and ZTE is largely irrelevant. for these networks. The so-called non-standalone 5G networks are integrated into the older 4G networks.

Bell and Telus will have to remove existing Huawei equipment from these old networks. Telus warned the government in 2019 that “a total ban on Huawei for 5G will force operators to replace their existing Huawei 4G equipment – a costly and complex proposition over an extended period”.

  1. As the Liberal government postponed its decision on whether or not to ban Huawei equipment, Canada's major telecom companies have all said they will use vendors other than Huawei to grow their 5G networks.

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  2. The cost to Bell and Telus of removing Huawei equipment is unclear, but early estimates put the figure at $1 billion for Telus.

    Possible Huawei ban forces telecoms to ask Liberals for taxpayer compensation for new gear

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Innovation Canada said in a policy statement that carriers will be required to retire 5G equipment and managed services from Huawei and ZTE by June 28, 2024, and “any existing 4G equipment and managed services must be retired or terminated by December 31, 2027”.

Champagne said on Thursday that the government would not compensate telecoms financially. The National Post previously reported that Bell and Telus had approached the government about the possibility of being compensated by taxpayers for the cost of removing the equipment.

In addition to older equipment already sold, Huawei has sold just over $700 million worth of equipment to telecom operators in Canada since 2018, mostly to Bell and Telus.

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston, a China specialist and senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, said two and five years to retire all Huawei gear is all simply too long.

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Although she said she was “fully supportive” of the Liberals’ announcement on Thursday, she said she hoped the government would go as far as the United States and outright ban all of the company’s products, such as consumer items like cell phones.

“There are other elements of what the company provides that can also be problematic,” she said.

The ban on Huawei and ZTE stems from concerns that the presence of Huawei equipment in Canada’s next-generation wireless networks poses a security risk, particularly given Chinese laws that state-owned enterprises must cooperate with its intelligence services.

This delay has only raised serious questions among us and our allies about the Liberal government’s national security commitments.

Innovation Canada said in its policy statement that the Canadian government has serious concerns that the two companies “may be compelled to comply with extrajudicial instructions from foreign governments in a manner that would be contrary to Canadian law or that would be prejudicial to Canadian interests. “.

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Asked about the threat Huawei poses to Canada, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said that “the review that was conducted over the last period, it was thorough, meticulous, it relied on the advice we receive from our national security. the partners.”

The government will also soon present a legislative framework for the protection of critical infrastructure in the finance, energy, telecommunications and transport sectors, Mendicino said. Critical infrastructures have become more vulnerable to cyberattacks over the past decade as they have become increasingly connected to the Internet.

In separate statements, the opposition Conservatives, the NDP and the Bloc Québécois all basically said: it was time.

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“The Liberal government’s lack of action on this decision has been an international embarrassment,” said Conservative MP Raquel Dancho. “During the years of delay, Canadian telecommunications companies have purchased hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Huawei equipment that will now have to be removed from their networks at enormous expense.”

NDP’s Brian Masse said the decision was “long overdue” and could have damaged Canada’s reputation in the eyes of its intelligence allies.

“It took the Liberal government three years to make this decision, while the other Five Eyes countries made their positions known much earlier. This delay has only raised serious questions among us and our allies about the Liberal government’s national security commitments and has hampered the internal telecommunications market.

The Bloc Québécois said it favored the “late” decision and insisted that no government money would be spent to compensate telecommunications giants who already have Huawei technology in their systems.

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