Bahrain to use Huawei in 5G rollout despite US warnings

Bahrain expects to be one of the first countries to make 5G available nationwide using Huawei equipment. (AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Bahrain to use Huawei in 5G rollout despite US warnings

  • Washington has warned countries against using Chinese technology
  • ‘We have no concern at this stage as long as this technology is meeting our standards’

DUBAI: Bahrain plans to roll out a commercial 5G mobile network by June, partly using Huawei technology despite the United States’ concerns the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment could be used for spying.
Washington has warned countries against using Chinese technology, saying Huawei could be used by Beijing to spy on the West. China and Huawei have strongly rejected the allegations.
VIVA Bahrain, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian state-controlled telecoms firm STC, last month signed an agreement to use Huawei products in its 5G network, one of several Gulf telecoms companies working with the Chinese company.
“We have no concern at this stage as long as this technology is meeting our standards,” Bahrain’s Telecommunications Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed told Reuters on Tuesday when asked about US concerns over Huawei technology.
A senior State Department official said the US routinely urges allies and partners to consider the risks posed by vendors subject to extrajudicial or unchecked compulsion by foreign states.
The US Fifth Fleet uses its base in Bahrain, a Western-allied island state off the Saudi coast, to patrol several important shipping lanes, including near Iran.
Bahrain expects to be one of the first countries to make 5G available nationwide, Mohammed said, although he cautioned it would depend on handset and equipment availability.
Early movers like the United States, China, Japan and South Korea are just starting to roll out their 5G networks, but other regions, such as Europe, are still years away and the first 5G phones are only likely to be released in the second half of this year.
Bahrain’s state-controlled operator Batelco is working with Sweden’s Ericsson on its 5G network, while the country’s third telecoms group Zain Bahrain is yet to announce a technology provider.
No foreign company is restricted by the government from providing equipment for Bahrain’s 5G network, Mohammed said, adding mobile operators choose who they work with.
Australia and New Zealand have stopped operators using Huawei equipment in their networks but the European Union is expected to ignore US calls to ban the Chinese company, instead urging countries to share more data to tackle cybersecurity risks related to 5G networks.
Mohammed said the rollout of the 5G network was an “important milestone” for Bahrain, which is hoping investments in technology will help spur its economy, which was hit hard by a recent drop in oil prices.
“It is something we are proud to have,” he said.


Samsung shares rise as Huawei struggles

Updated 22 min 30 sec ago
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Samsung shares rise as Huawei struggles

  • Huawei has been rocked with promblems in the past weeks, including major revelations from tech giants
  • Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone maker which has been facing increasing competition from its Chinese rival

SEOUL: Shares in Samsung Electronics climbed nearly three percent Tuesday on the back of its chief rival Huawei’s mounting problems, including a decision by Google to sever ties with the Chinese mobile phone maker.
It is the latest in the months-long saga between Huawei and the United States analysts warn could see Chinese semiconductor demand fall, threatening a nascent Asian recovery in the industry.
US Internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said this week it is cutting ties with Huawei to comply with an executive order issued by President Donald Trump.
The move could have dramatic implications for Huawei smartphone users, as the firm will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary services — which include the Gmail and Google Maps apps.
Investors bet Huawei’s loss could benefit Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker which has been facing increasing competition from its Chinese rival, sending its shares up 2.7 percent at closing on Tuesday.
Analysts say the US ban will damage Huawei’s ability to sell phones outside China, offering Samsung a chance to consolidate its position at the top of the global market.
“If you are in Europe or China and couldn’t use Google map or any Android services with a Huawei smartphone, would you buy one?” MS Hwang, an analyst at Samsung Securities, told Bloomberg News, adding: “Wouldn’t you buy a Samsung smartphone instead?“
Samsung accounted for 23.1 percent of global smartphone sales in the first quarter of this year, according to industry tracker International Data Corporation, while Huawei had 19.0 percent.
But Huawei’s troubles may be a double-edged sword for Samsung — also the world’s biggest chipmaker — if it leads to a plunge in demand for semiconductors.
China dominates purchases from Asian chip makers and bought 51 percent of their shipments in 2017, Bloomberg reported citing a Citigroup analysis. Including Hong Kong, it accounted for 69 percent of South Korea’s chip production.
“In our view, China’s restocking efforts for electronic goods will likely weaken and be delayed if the tensions and the ban stay longer, which likely will hurt overall demand,” the report said.
Last week, Trump declared a “national emergency” empowering him to blacklist companies seen as “an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States” — a move analysts said was clearly aimed at Huawei.
The US Commerce Department announced a ban on American companies selling or transferring US technology to Huawei, with a 90-day reprieve by allowing temporary licenses.