Chinese tech titan Huawei is to be banned from supplying new kit to Britain’s 5G network from the end of the year.
The decision is a major U-turn by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The National Security Council (NSC) also ruled that existing Huawei equipment must be stripped from 5G networks by 2027. Some rebellious Conservative MPs had demanded a quicker timetable.
A spokesman for Huawei said: “This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone. It threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide. Instead of ‘levelling up’ the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider. We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK. Regrettably, our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about US trade policy and not security. Over the past 20 years, Huawei has focused on building a better-connected UK. As a responsible business, we will continue to support our customers as we have always done. We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better-connected Britain.”
Britain’s NSC is made up of senior ministers and security chiefs. The group decided recent restrictions by America on Huawei meant the company’s equipment could no longer be trusted in the UK’s 5G network. The US stopped Huawei from using its components, forcing it to look for other “less trusted” parts.
That move alone won the day for an aggressive “no to Huawei” campaign led by President Trump. He will see the reversal as a significant victory for him and America. For months, Washington has been putting relentless pressure on Johnson to quit Huawei for security reasons.
America’s latest sanctions would stop Huawei using US-made chips in its equipment. The company would need to rely on home-made micro-chips, and UK intelligence chiefs felt they could no longer be confident that new kit was secure.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the Huawei ban could delay the full rollout of 5G networks in Britain by two years. It could also cost more than £2 billion.
Johnson has also been under pressure from his own backbench MPs. Enough supported a ban on Huawei to cost the PM a vote in the House despite an 80-seat majority. Earlier Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said Britain’s decisions were being scrutinized. They believe the UK cannot run its foreign policy independently of the US.
He said: “The China business community are all watching how you handle Huawei. If you get rid of Huawei it sends out a very bad message to other Chinese businesses. We want to be your friend. We want to be your partner. But if you want to make China a hostile country, you will have to bear the consequences.”
More than 100 jobs to be created by Huawei in Ireland
Huawei today (21 February) announced it would create a further 110 new jobs in Ireland by the end of 2022, bringing to at least 310 the total of new jobs it will have added over a three year period from 2019 to 2022 – more than doubling its workforce in that time. Huawei will invest €80 million in Irish research and development (R&D) over the next two years to support its growing business in Ireland.
Over the past 15 months, Huawei has created 200 jobs in Ireland, as well as investing €60 million in R&D. In the next two years, Huawei will invest a further €80 million in R&D in Ireland, doubling its commitment from 2019.*
The new jobs will meet sustained growing demand for Huawei’s products and services across its sales, R&D, IT development and in its consumer division. The company has a strong focus on helping its business partners roll out 5G across Ireland in coming years. The jobs will be mainly based in its Dublin headquarters and across operations in Cork and Athlone.
The investment is supported by the Irish government through IDA Ireland.
Commenting on the announcement, Tánaiste and Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister Leo Varadkar said: “The news that Huawei will create 110 new jobs is most welcome. The company is creating new jobs at a time when we really need them with so many people out of work. Despite all the current uncertainty and challenges, Ireland continues to attract top class investment from global technology companies. These 110 jobs, which come in addition to the 200 created over the past 15 months, will be accompanied by an €80m investment in Irish research and development. I wish the company the best of luck with this expansion.”
Confirming the latest recruitment plans Huawei Ireland Chief Executive Tony Yangxu said: “We are delighted to see such growth in our workforce and business. Huawei has a long-term commitment to Ireland, where since 2004 we have built a world-class team servicing our ever-growing consumer and enterprise customer bases. Today’s announcement is testament to the strength of those, as well as the ongoing success of our research and development programme, to which we committed €70 million in 2019. Our story in Ireland is one of mutual success, as we assist with the national digital transformation and Ireland continues to grow its international reputation as a pro-business environment with great talent available.”
IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan added: “This is a welcome investment by Huawei which will add substantially to Ireland’s technology and R&D ecosystem. The company’s continued commitment to significant investments in R&D and creating high value jobs demonstrates Huawei’s confidence in Ireland and the talent pool available here.”
Huawei has a broad range of activities in Ireland, where it serves all of the major telecommunications providers with products and business solutions.
Huawei’s R&D operations in Ireland work closely with Science Foundation Ireland research centres, including Adapt, Connect and Lero, while also having partnerships with DCU, Trinity, UCD, UCC and UL. Its R&D efforts in Ireland focus on the areas of video, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), site-reliability engineering and 5G consumer use cases.
In 2020, Huawei Ireland began supporting Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland through its global digital inclusion TECH4ALL programme. Huawei Ireland is providing a research grant and technological support to ORC Ireland as it conducts the first real-time study of the impact of marine traffic on whales in Irish waters. Huawei Ireland also launched the ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD), aimed at supporting female students studying STEM subjects.
Huawei Ireland was recently announced as a 2021 regional Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute. Each year, Top Employers Institute certifies organisations who are focused on putting their people first through their exceptional HR policies. The Top Employers Institute programme certifies organisations based on the participation and results of their HR Best Practices Survey. This survey covers 6 HR domains consisting of 20 topics such as People Strategy, Work Environment, Talent Acquisition, Learning, Well-being and Diversity & Inclusion and more.
About Huawei Ireland
Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services – Huawei is committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei employs over 194,000 people in 170 countries across the globe.
Huawei has been in Ireland since 2004, with its business now serving over 3 million people and supporting over 860 direct and indirect jobs.
Huawei’s business activities in Ireland continue to thrive. Intelligent connectivity with fibre and 5G technologies has begun and will empower the market of mobile networks and broadband networks with AI and IOT technologies. Huawei Ireland is working very closely with local operators and partners, and is focused on nurturing future talent and highly-skilled professionals in these areas across the country.
Huawei works with a number of Irish third-level institutions, including Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, University of Limerick, University College Dublin, and University College Cork, funding vital Irish research into video, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. The company also partners key Science Foundation Ireland centres such as Connect, Insight, Adapt and Lero.
Huawei Ireland is supporting Ocean Research & Conservation Ireland, a “for-impact” non-profit organisation based in Cork, to conduct Ireland’s first real-time study to assess the impact of marine traffic on whales in Irish waters. The new study will see the deployment of acoustic monitoring equipment in the Celtic Sea at locations where sightings of whales and other wildlife have been recorded. The equipment will be able to listen for movements of whales, and with the help of machine learning models to enhance data analysis, for the first time provide near real-time detection.
In 2020, Huawei Ireland launched the ‘TECH4HER’ Scholarship Programme in partnership with Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin) and University College Dublin (UCD), aimed at supporting female students studying STEM subjects. The scholarships are available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In addition to financial support, TECH4HER also offers the opportunity to engage in a mentoring programme with representatives from Huawei.
Huawei CEO calls for easing of US-China trade tensions
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei (pictured) urged the new US administration to adopt a more open policy towards Chinese companies, though admitted the vendor had no expectation current restrictions on it would be lifted, writes Chris Donkin.
Speaking at a media roundtable, Ren said the company wanted to focus on making good products and did not have the “energy to be involved in this political whirlpool”.
The executive went on to question if the US’ aggressive stance against China’s companies was beneficial to its own economy and businesses.
However, he conceded it would be “extremely difficult” for authorities in the US to lift restrictions already imposed on Huawei.
Huawei was a target of a sustained campaign against it led-by former US President Donald Trump, with various restrictions placed on the company’s activities including bans on US companies supplying the vendor.
The rules have severely restricted Huawei’s handset business in addition to hampering its networks unit: the US successfully persuaded several countries to follow its lead in banning the vendor from supplying 5G network equipment on security grounds.
Trump has since been replaced by Joe Biden, though so far there has been no indication this would lead to an easing in restrictions against the company or its local peers.
During the session Ren also reiterated earlier comments stating Huawei was open to negotiations with US-based businesses about licensing its technology, though noted none had contacted it so far.
Huawei opens new front in FCC fight
Huawei escalated a fight with Federal Communications Commission (FCC), filing a lawsuit seeking to reverse the US regulator’s designation of it as a national security threat, writes Diana Goovaerts.
The Chinese vendor argued in a court filing the FCC exceeded its statutory authority in naming it a threat and the label was “arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion, and not supported by substantial evidence”.
It asked a judge to scrap the FCC’s designation and “provide such other relief as this court deems appropriate”.
A FCC representative told Mobile World Live the designation was “based on a substantial body of evidence developed by the FCC and numerous US national security agencies”, adding “we will continue to defend that decision”.
The FCC formally named Huawei and Chinese rival ZTE as security threats in June 2020, and subsequently rejected appeals from both companies challenging their designations.
Under an FCC rule adopted in November 2019, the title prevents US operators from using government funding to purchase or maintain equipment from either vendor.
Huawei’s lawsuit is separate from legal action taken against the FCC in December 2019 aimed at overturning the rule.
The company lost an earlier attempt to reverse US restrictions on government contractors using its products.
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