2degrees has warned that Kiwis can expect to pay more for mobile services if Chinese giant Huawei is barred from selling 5G telecommunications equipment to New Zealand.
Spark warned a ban would also impact its costs.
Huawei, which has global revenues of close to US$100 billion (NZ$153b), is already well entrenched as a supplier of mobile technology to both companies.
I was a guest of Huawei to their HQ in China a few years ago so follow these stories with interest.
As far as I can tell the campaign against Huawei is protectionism masquerading as security concerns. Huawei is sensitive to this campaign so they have gone out of their way to be more open than their competitors and have done stuff such as putting the former UK Government CIO in charge of their security.
There has never been a shred of evidence that Huawei gear is compromised with some sort of backdoor. And plenty of people have looked. And frankly the worth of Huawei to the Chinese economy is far far greater as a successful business than anything else.
But Communications Minister Kris Faafoi has acknowledged it is possible New Zealand could take similar action to Australia, which along with the United States has blocked the firm from supplying 5G equipment, citing security concerns.
We shouldn’t, unless there is some evidence. So far there is none.
2degrees spokesman Mat Bollard said Kiwi consumers could expect to feel a direct impact if Huawei did face any ban.
“We have been with Huawei for the better part of 10 years and it is important it remains around as an option because it provides quality network kit and brings price-competitiveness to the market.
“That filters through to the prices people pay when they use their mobile,” he said.
Before I visited Huawei I thought they were successful just because they compete on price, using cheaper labour. But the reality is that they produce really innovative gear and products that lead the market in many ways. It is innovation, not price, that is their real strength.
Bowater said Huawei was under more scrutiny “than anyone else in the market”.
“New Zealanders can have a lot of confidence that every major piece of work we do in New Zealand goes through independent evaluation in the UK through the cybersecurity evaluation centre there, which we haven’t really acknowledged publicly before.
“Everything we do goes through that evaluation centre which has oversight from [British spy agency] GCHQ and they feed that through to [New Zealand spy agency] GCSB.”
Huawei realised it had to “go above and beyond because we are headquartered in China”, he said.
“Risks have to be addressed in a rational manner – saying ‘you are Chinese, or you are from an okay country’ is not going to solve anything.
“We can only do what we can to put the checks in place and ensure we have thorough checks around everything, but there has never been evidence of any wrongdoing by Huawei – there has never been a ‘backdoor’ found. The smoking gun has never been there.”
Again this is mainly protectionism at work, not true security concerns.