Huawei presence in Samoa okay

New Zealand has joined Australia in rejecting Huawei’s bid to build a 5G network. 

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) blocked Huawei’s offer to provide the technology to Spark in a decision revealed last Wednesday.

According to Andrew Little, the New Zealand minster for the GCSB, any installation of 5G technology has potential security implications, according to a report by stuff.co.nz and would not elaborate further.

When Australia made a similar decision earlier this year, it was attributed to national security concerns.

CNBC reports Mike Burgess, director general of the Australian Signals Directorate (Australia’s intelligence agency) said Chinese telecommunications carriers are “high-risk vendors.”

"5G technology will underpin the communications that Australians rely on every day, from our health systems and the potential applications of remote surgery, to self-driving cars and through to the operation of our power and water supply. The stakes could not be higher," Burgess said.

Here in Samoa, Huawei has partnerships with Bluesky and Digicel, deploying 4 and 4.5G networks across the country.

Chief executive officer Toleafoa Tiafau Douglas Creevey said so far, Huawei is fully compliant with Samoa’s regulations and its technology is “industry leading,” so Bluesky will continue to work with it.

 “As far as we know, we don’t have the required evidence or information on those national security concerns.

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“We are listening closely for further information and to see what comes out of those blocks in New Zealand and Australia,” Toleafoa said.

As to whether Bluesky would consider investing in, or blocking an offer to develop a 5G network, Toleafoa said that is still too far away.

“5G is still in its design phases, and that decision would have to be made in conjunction with the regulator,” he said.

“At this stage, we are fully satisfied with our network.”

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi would not confirm whether he would follow New Zealand and Australia’s lead.

“We already have Huawei here, which was behind a project we built and they are very good.”

Responding to whether he would consider stopping the Chinese telecom from building a 5G network, Tuilaepa said he would respond when the situation arose.

The United States has also banned Huawei from selling equipment for security reasons.

Samoa’s regulator, Lefaoali'i Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti also said she had not seen evidence to back up the concerns expressed by the other countries.

“I would be very concerned if I did see evidence, but I haven’t seen it yet,” she said.

“It’s certainly something to look into.”

Digicel chief executive officer Farid Mohammed said he would seek responses to questions from his global leadership team.

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