Science

US Government Still Sees Huawei as a Front for Chinese Spying

By | Sep 14, 2016 09:32 AM EDT
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Spy gizmos?

Huawei universal service routers.(Photo : Huawei)

U.S. military and intelligence agencies are raising the alarm against the participation by China's Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world, in building the U.S. 5G wireless network.

Suspected for over a decade by the U.S. of being an intelligence gathering arm of China's armed forces, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), Huawei has also been dogged by similar allegations from other western countries. In 2012, Australia banned Huawei from taking part in building its National Broadband Network out of similar security concerns.

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The FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA) are examining the national security implications of Huawei's participation in building the U.S. 5G wireless network.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission last July approved the plan to begin readying the U.S. for 5G or 5th generation mobile networks. Theis next generation network is the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advanced standards.

5G includes Internet connection speeds faster than current 4G, and other improvements such as data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users and 1 gigabit per second simultaneously to many users on the same office floor. Rollout for 5G is expected by 2020.

The two largest U.S. telecom players -- AT&T and Verizon -- will join the effort to build a national 5G network but will need the support of telecommunications equipment manufacturers like Huawei to do so. AT&T has begun preliminary talks with a number of companies, including Huawei, to create global standards for the 5G network.

The FBI, NSA and CIA are concerned Huawei, which has unusually close ties to the PLA, might implant "microscopic beacons" inside its routers and circuits, allowing the PLA or any of its hacking teams to spy on U.S. military and government communications networks in real time.

They're also worried Huawei might insert "backdoors" into critical telecommunications infrastructure, giving the PLA and its legion of cyberspies unfettered access to U.S. national communications. Backdoors allow unauthorized remote access to a computer or a network.

One intel source said the federal government has long been concerned about Huawei's efforts to obtain access to key U.S. and allied telecommunications infrastructure.

In October 2012, a U.S. House Intelligence Committee panel issued a report describing Huawei as a "national security threat" because of its alleged ties to various Chinese governmental agencies.

The panel's report suggested Huawei "be barred from doing business with the US government." A subsequent White House review found no concrete evidence to support the House's espionage allegations, however.

The House report also said another Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems."

ZTE is a telecommunications equipment and systems company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong.

Huawei has consistently denied these spying allegations by the U.S.

Huawei offers a range of network technologies and solutions to help telecommunications operators expand the capacity of their mobile broadband networks. 

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