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Business & Finance Nov 29, 2019 1:48 PM EST

Northern telecom ready to deploy Huawei 5G while Ottawa dithers on decision whether to ban it altogether

“We don’t have anything that says you can’t deploy (5G), and we don’t have anything that says you can (so) we’re just experimenting” – Ice Wireless CEO Samer Bishay

Northern telecom ready to deploy Huawei 5G while Ottawa dithers on decision whether to ban it altogether
Jason Unrau Montreal, QC

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

The president of the Canadian telecom partnering with Huawei to upgrade high-speed wireless service for dozens of communities in the far north says they’re waiting for Ottawa’s decision on 5G and could deploy it in the hinterland in short order.

“We’re testing a few things, so (Huawei 5G) is not going live anytime soon, but it’s definitely in our labs,” said Samer Bishay, President and CEO of Ice Wireless.

“Just because it’s the north doesn’t mean they should get the technology a decade later. It doesn’t make sense.”

But as Huawei 5G has raised national security concerns, Bishay said Ice Wireless is “doing its part as a good corporate citizen” by not deploying it and blames “the political stuff that’s kind of driving the whole discussion around it right now.”

“We don’t have anything that says you can’t deploy (5G), and we don’t have anything that says you can. That’s why we’re just experimenting.”

While Rogers has opted to employ Ericsson 5G on its networks, other companies like Ice Wireless await a final decision on Huawei 5G that Ottawa has dithered on making.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Prime Minister’s Office did not respond to TPM queries about when the government would make a final determination.

Huawei 3G/4G LTE has previously received certification by the Canada’s Communications Security Establishment Commission, technology that Ice Wireless is currently deploying in the north.

Back in July, Huawei Canada vice-president Alykhan Velshi announced the joint-venture with Bishay’s company to upgrade communications services in northern Quebec and the Arctic where the big three players–Rogers, Telus and Bell–are reticent to tread.

“We cover a large landmass, places that not even Rogers or Telus ventured to build. A lot of those guys roam on our network up there,” Bishay told The Post Millennial in an interview.

However, citing national security vulnerabilities United States, Austrailia and New Zealand–part of the Five Eyes signals and intelligence network that includes the UK and Canada–have banned Huawei from their 5G networks; Britain is also mulling a Huawei ban on its core network.

The 5G technology is purportedly capable of activating “the internet of things”–a Bluetooth world where all our gadgets are operable via smart phone–by enabling up to 10 gigabytes-per-second of data transfer on wifi, fibre optics and satellite conduits.

The downside of this technology, is proliferation of such gadgetry widens an already deep field of existing cyber-threats to national security, involving not just thrill hackers but hostile state actors with strategic intention.

And a recent analysis of the Chinese tech-behemoth’s ownership structure by Fulbright University economist Christopher Balding and George Washington University law professor Donald Clark, found it leads straight to China’s politburo.

“If Huawei (Trade Union) Holding (Company) is in fact controlled by a trade union committee, then given the way such bodies are supposed to operate in China, it makes sense to think of it as state-controlled and even state-owned,” Balding and Clark conclude.

Adding to concerns about Huawei, is a CBC interview that aired at the beginning of November with Susan Rice, former U.S. national security advisor to President Barack Obama, in which she caged Huawei 5G as a clear and present danger.

“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice, who explained the threat, then suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be jeopardized if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.

“That would put the security collaboration which serves the security interests of every Canadian and every American, into jeopardy… I don’t see how we can share (intelligence) in the way we have (if Canada allows Huawei 5G). It’s not a joke. It’s truly serious.”

To counter the negative publicity, Huawei Canada went on a charm offensive of sorts this week, ballyhooing the $50 million it has spent on research at Canadian universities to date and the $700 million it added to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018.

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