What is with this HuaweiPhobia?


The anti-Huawei sentiment, at least in America, has a new name – HuaweiPhobia.

Phobia is an irrational fear that is out of proportion to the actual danger the threat poses. It is like coulrophobia (fear of clowns), nomophobia (loss of access to a mobile) or any of the thousands of recognised phobias.

The latest HuaweiPhobia is a concern by US Telcos  (mainly small regionals) on the US FCC (Federal Communications Commission) proposal to reduce subsidies (currently about US$9 billion each year) for using Huawei (or ZTE or any Chinese made) communications equipment.

FCC boss Ajit Pai states:

“I am proposing to prohibit the FCC’s Universal Service Fund from being used to purchase equipment or services from any company that poses a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or their supply chains.”

The subsidies help smaller wireless carriers provide service to high-cost rural areas, schools, libraries,  low-income consumers and tribal land residents. These carriers buy Huawei and Chinese made equipment because in most cases it provides superior technology as well as better bang-for-buck.

 It is being called a ‘rip and replace’ tax – either rip it out and use approved tech or lose the subsidy. These telcos are now seeking even more subsidies to become ‘compliant’.

Larger carriers cannot use Chinese made equipment since a Congressional report in 2012 said that Chinese suppliers must yield to the wishes of the Chinese Government, ergo they are not safe.

From a media statement by FCC boss Ajit Pai in March 2018:

“Threats to national security posed by certain communications equipment providers are a matter of bipartisan concern. Hidden ‘backdoors’ to our networks in routers,switches—and virtually any other type of telecommunications equipment—can provide an avenue for hostile governments to inject viruses, launch denial-of-service attacks, steal data, and more. Although the FCC alone can’t safeguard the integrity of our communications supply chain, we must and will play our part in a government- and industry-wide effort to protect the security of our networks.”

This stance has substantial support from President Trump who strongly advocates there is a national security threat from Chinese equipment and other foreign technology companies. He says it is unrelated to the trade tariff cold war at present. Note, the ban started under Barack Obama, so it is not a trumped-up vendetta.

The WSJ reports on an “extraordinary outreach campaign” by the US government.

Its aim is to lobby private companies and allied governments to abandon Huawei equipment. The Government cites concerns that Huawei’s tech might be vulnerable to Chinese spies. US customers and allies have no option but to rip and replace equipment made by Chinese telecom giants.

In Japan the top three Carriers – NTT Docomo, SoftBank, and KDDI – have banned Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese made communications equipment.

Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei from 5G networks.

Britain’s BT Group is removing Huawei’s equipment from its existing core 3G and 4G mobile operations. It will not use the company for the 5G network.

France has added items to its ‘high-alert’ list that explicitly targets the equipment only made by guess who – Huawei. Parts of France’s telecom’s infrastructure, especially it’s 5G are now inaccessible to Huawei through classified regulations including directives from France’s National Agency for the Security of Information Systems on 5G suppliers.

It is no coincidence that all the ‘five eyes’ countries Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, US have taken action. Now it clear the ‘fourteen eyes’ (known as SIGINT Seniors Europe) countries are joining suit –  Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. Israel is also on-board. South-Korea is teetering too. India, the second largest global mobile market has also taken Huawei and other Chinese suppliers from its 5G list.

Then there is the Canadian arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the founder. The allegation is that Huawei has circumvented sanctions imposed on North Korea and Iran by secretly providing telecom equipment.

GadgetGuy’s take: HuaweiPhobia may be fun for some

GadgetGuy does not make political statements – there are many media outlets for that. But, we are more than a little confused at the recent events surrounding Huawei.

All we can say is that Huawei’s mobile phones are not part of the discussion. Ordinary Australians need not fear Chinese spying. Its Mate 20 Pro is currently the worlds most advanced smartphone –  at least until CES in January or Mobile World Congress in February.

If you have confidential dealings, then use a VPN and if you are in critical infrastructure, government, military or contractor supplying any of the above you must comply with your government’s wishes.

Oh, and avoid Chinese security cameras, IoT, smart toys, electronics or anything else made there. And wear a tinfoil hat. And, if your name sounds Russian like Kaspersky then don’t come here either. Let’s see – who else can we insult?