Canada banning China's Huawei Technologies, ZTE from 5G networks – Toronto Sun

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OTTAWA — The Liberal government says it is banning Chinese vendors Huawei Technologies and ZTE from Canada’s long-awaited blueprint for next-generation mobile networks.

The development of 5G, or fifth-generation, networks will give people speedier online connections and provide vast data capacity to meet ravenous demand as more devices link to the internet and innovations such as autonomous vehicles emerge.

The Opposition Conservatives and other critics have long pressed the Liberals to deny Huawei a role in building the country’s 5G infrastructure, saying it would allow Beijing to spy on Canadians more easily.

Some say Huawei’s participation could give it access to an array of digital information gleaned from how, when and where Canadian customers use internet-connected devices.

In turn, the theory goes, Chinese security agencies could force the company to hand over the personal information.

Huawei has long insisted it is a fiercely independent company that does not engage in espionage for anyone, including Beijing.

ZTE is a partially state-owned Chinese technology company that specializes in telecommunications.

“Telecommunication companies in Canada will not be permitted to include in their networks products or services that put our national security at risk,” said Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.

“Providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease its use and remove it under the plans we are announcing today.”

He told a hastily called news conference Thursday the decision followed a full review by Canada’s security agencies, in consultation with Ottawa’s closest allies.

“We will always protect the safety and security of Canadians. And we’ll take any actions necessary to safeguard our telecommunication infrastructure.”

Three of Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance — the United States, Britain and Australia — have taken decisive steps to curb the use of Huawei gear in their countries’ respective 5G networks.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Thursday the Liberal government would introduce legislation to further strengthen Canada’s telecommunications system and create a framework to protect national security.

Here’s a primer on what led up to this decision and what you need to know about this next-generation wireless technology:

5G technology gives Canadians faster phone and internet connections and provides vast data capacity amid growth in innovations and increased demand.

The technology that supports the network has been redesigned from previous generations. 5G relies on multiple antennas to move signals around, bouncing them quickly between locations. Phone users aren’t going to notice the boost in speed if they’re making a call, surfing the internet or using an online app because the difference is about 100 milliseconds, but that difference is noticeable at a larger scale.

The antennas are also smaller and can be placed in more locations like buildings or street lights. Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada parent BCE Inc., and Telus Corp. have been expanding their 5G networks over the past few years, beginning in major cities.

In a 2020 report, GMSA Intelligence, the research arm of a group that represents mobile operators worldwide, estimated that 5G would add $150 billion to the Canadian economy through to 2040.

Put another way, it estimated 5G would spur the same level of annual economic activity as the aerospace sector. The federal government estimated that in 2019 the aerospace industry contributed over $20.3 billion to the country’s gross domestic product, and supported 1600,000 jobs.

Privacy concerns are the main driver behind the ban. Conservatives have been pushing the Trudeau government to make the move to prevent Huawei from building Canada’s 5G infrastructure, arguing that it would allow China to spy on Canadians. Huawei and the Chinese government have vigorously denied the accusations, saying that the company poses no security threat.

Three of Canada’s partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance — the United States, Britain and Australia — have taken decisive steps to curb the use of Huawei gear in their countries’ respective 5G networks. The U.S. has imposed especially strong sanctions on the company.

Although some of Canada’s wireless providers had originally planned to work with Huawei, they had already backed away from the partnership in anticipation of the federal government’s decision. In 2020, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. announced they would be working with Sweden’s Ericsson as a supplier for their 5G networks.

Rogers in March launched a 5G standalone network in partnership with Ericsson.

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