Bloomberg News

Huawei to Seek Projects Related to Australia’s Broadband Network

April 01, 2012

Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest maker of telephone equipment, said it will continue to seek projects related to Australia’s broadband network after being banned from bidding on contracts over security concerns.

“Our argument will always be that there is core parts of the national infrastructure that companies like us would not expect to be in,” John Lord, chairman of Huawei’s unit in Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s “Inside Business” program yesterday. “We would still argue that there’s parts of the NBN that are perhaps suitable.”

Huawei won’t be allowed to bid for work on the A$35.9 billion ($37 billion) project for Australia’s national broadband network, the government has said, marking at least the second time in six months that the Chinese company has been barred from an overseas government contract.

The Australian ban adds to political woes for Huawei, the world’s second-largest vendor of phone network equipment with $32 billion in sales last year. The company has repeatedly run into opposition from U.S. lawmakers, who have cited concerns about security because of alleged links to China’s military, which Huawei has denied.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard last month defended her government’s decision to ban Huawei, saying it was because of “national interests.”

Australian Network

The Australian network will provide fiber-optic access to about 3.5 million premises in Australia by mid-2015, Gillard said on March 29. The NBN plans to roll out fiber to 93 percent of Australia’s population during the next decade, with the rest served by wireless and satellite.

In October, the U.S. excluded Huawei from its Public Safety 700-MHz Demonstration Network, run by the National Institute of Standards and Technology along with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a part of the Commerce Department. The network allows communication in an emergency between first responders, including firefighters and police officers.

Lord reiterated Huawei has offered to limit all employees on the broadband project to security-cleared Australian citizens, open up its software code, and undergo a full audit of security measures.

Huawei has said it’s working on eight broadband networks similar to Australia’s in the U.K., Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Benin and Brunei, and hasn’t been asked for security concessions in those markets.

To contact the reporter on this story: Soraya Permatasari in Melbourne at soraya@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Tighe at ptighe@bloomberg.net


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