The U.S. Congress has expressed a position that South Korea should not contract China’s Huawei Technologies to build its nationwide 5G wireless network because of cyber-security concerns, according to a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Defense in December.
“Huawei has been under intense scrutiny from the U.S. government given its close ties to the Chinese government,” Representative Steve Chabot, Senator Mark Kirk and Senator John Cornyn stated in the Dec. 22 letter sent to then Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Mr. Chabot chairs the House Small Business Committee.
The lawmakers urged the Pentagon to investigate the security risks to American facilities and military forces in South Korea posed by Huawei’s role in a new wireless network in the country. “The U.S. should monitor South Korea’s potential participation in building the 5G network,” according to the letter. The letter suggests that the Pentagon should block South Korea from building the advanced network using Huawei equipment.
South Korean telecom carriers raise concerns about a possible conflict with Huawei at a time when they are speeding up to develop 5G technology.
To date, South Korea has only one case of an explicit announcement that it will use Huawei equipment. Huawei signed with the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee late last year to become an official Olympic partner in the area of network equipment. Meanwhile, South Korea’s LG Uplus has been cooperating with Huawei to use the latter’s equipment for Narrow Band-Internet of Things (NB-IoT) on the 4G network.
Market watchers say the pressure from the U.S. Congress is excessive considering Huawei equipment is price competitive and reliable in quality. LG Uplus already uses Huawei equipment, but there has been no report of any security breach.
By Shin Hyun-kyu and Lim Sung-hyun
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