Huawei should be allowed 5G role in Italy, says minister

5G testing spot provided by China Telecom is seen in Chengdu downtown. Italy’s Telecom Italia is in the process of choosing suppliers and Huawei is among possible contenders. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 December 2019

Huawei should be allowed 5G role in Italy, says minister

  • Stefano Patuanelli’s remarks follow parliamentary committee’s move to block the company

ROME: Chinese telecoms firm Huawei should be allowed a role in Italy’s future 5G network, the Italian industry minister said on Sunday after an influential parliamentary committee called on Rome to block the company.

The US has lobbied Italy and other European allies to avoid using Huawei equipment in their next generation networks and to closely scrutinize rival ZTE, saying the companies could pose a security risk.

“We have passed legislation that guarantees national security. With the right defenses, the possibility of (Huawei’s) access is not up for debate,” Minister Stefano Patuanelli, part of the ruling 5-Star Movement, told La Stampa daily.

Last week, Italy’s parliamentary security committee Copasir said the government should consider preventing Huawei and ZTE from taking part in the development of 5G networks.

Italy’s biggest phone group Telecom Italia (TIM) is in the process of choosing suppliers to upgrade its network infrastructure and Huawei is among possible contenders.

Cabinet undersecretary Riccardo Fraccaro, also a 5-Star member, said on Friday that the government would not be able to ignore the opinion of Copasir. But Patuanelli said on Sunday that “Huawei offers the best solutions at the best prices.”

“One cannot fly the flag of the market with one hand and that of protectionism with the other,” he added. 

Huawei rejects the allegations that it poses a security threat. 

Last week, Telenor said it will use equipment from Huawei in building Norway’s 5G network.

State-controlled Telenor picked Sweden’s Ericsson to help roll out its fifth-generation (5G) telecoms network.

Huawei will continue to play a role in modernizing its infrastructure, Hanne Knudsen, Telenor vice president for communications, told Reuters.

“Ericsson has been introduced as a new vendor for 5G RAN, but we will also work with Huawei both to maintain the 4G network and also upgrade to 5G coverage in selected areas of Norway,” Knudsen said in response to written questions.

“Huawei has delivered hardware for RAN, but not for the core network. When they will build 5G in selected areas for the modernization, this is also for RAN, not core,” she said.

Telenor’s Finnish subsidiary DNA also uses Huawei as one of several vendors for 5G RAN, Knudsen said.

RAN, or radio access network, refers to the radios and antenna that connect smartphones to the mobile network, and accounts for the bulk of the cost of a new network. It is not the core.

Telenor is using Finnish company Nokia and Ericsson for building its core network.

Telenor Norway boss Petter-Boerre Furberg told Reuters that Huawei network components would be phased out over the next four to five years.


Palantir listing may shine light on secretive Big Data firm

Updated 21 September 2020

Palantir listing may shine light on secretive Big Data firm

  • Palantir’s filing suggests a valuation of some $10 billion, down from a private value as high as $25 billion, according to Renaissance Capital

WASHINGTON: Perhaps the most secretive firm to emerge from Silicon Valley, Palantir Technologies is set for a stock market debut this month that may shed light on the Big Data firm specializing in law enforcement and national security.

Palantir platform has been used in the controversial practice of “predictive policing” to help law enforcement, detect medical insurance fraud and fight the coronavirus pandemic.

While Palantir’s data practices and algorithms are secret, the company claims it follows a road map which is, if anything, more ethical than its tech sector rivals.

It moved its headquarters to Denver this year, partly in an effort to set itself apart from its Silicon Valley rivals.

“Our company was founded in Silicon Valley. But we seem to share fewer and fewer of the technology sector’s values and commitments,” Palantir says in its prospectus. “From the start, we have repeatedly turned down opportunities to sell, collect or mine data.”

Palantir is opting for a direct listing, expected on Sept. 29. This will not raise capital but will allow shares to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Palantir’s filing suggests a valuation of some $10 billion, down from a private value as high as $25 billion, according to Renaissance Capital.

The company posted a loss of $580 million last year on revenue of $743 million. But it sees prospects improving as it offers solutions to what it calls “fractured health care systems, erosions of data privacy, strained criminal justice systems and outmoded ways of fighting wars,” its regulatory filing says.

Palantir’s biggest shareholder is Peter Thiel, an early Facebook investor and one of the rare tech executives who backed Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016.

“We are in a deadly race between politics and technology,” Thiel wrote in a 2009 essay for the libertarian Cato Institute.

Activists argue that Palantir’s technology — which scoops up financial records, social media posts, call records and internet records — enables unprecedented opportunities for mass surveillance with little oversight on privacy and fundamental rights.

Human rights activists have staged protests against Palantir after US agencies used its technology to hunt down illegal immigrants in the United States.

The immigration rights activist group Mijente claims Palantir technology is used in operations to track and arrest thousands of people “just for being undocumented.”

Palantir is a major player in “predictive policing,” a technology which critics say can amplify bias in law enforcement.

A 2017 research paper by University of Texas sociologist Sarah Brayne found the Palantir platform can connect seemingly unrelated bits of data for investigators, but can also lead to “a proliferation of data from police” collected without a warrant.

Palantir does not apologize for its work in national security and law enforcement.

Palantir points out that it created a privacy and civil liberties board in 2012, ahead of most tech rivals. It also rejects working with China as “inconsistent with our culture and mission.”