Canada revealed plans to ban operators from buying equipment from Huawei and ZTE in a bid to safeguard the country’s national security, a move that pushes the Chinese vendors from Western markets and entrenches them further in emerging markets.
In a statement, the Canadian government echoed fellow members of the security alliance Five Eyes in noting it harbours “serious concerns” about suppliers such as Huawei and ZTE, who could be “compelled to comply with extrajudicial directions from foreign governments”, that would conflict with Canadian laws and interests.
The government is forcing operators to remove 5G gear and services from both vendors by June 2024, and by the end of 2027 to tear out 4G parts.
Minister of innovation, science and industry Francois-Philippe Champagne told CBC News the “vast majority” of 5G networks in Canada does not include equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE.
Restrictions will also extend to the Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) equipment used in fibre-optic networks, although details have yet to be revealed.
Extensive examinations were conducted on 5G technology with allies, testing various technical, economic and security aspects of deployment. Although 5G will “bring significant benefits” to Canadians, it also brings “new security concerns that malicious actors could exploit”.
“In order to reap the economic and social benefits of 5G technology, Canada must continue to secure the foundation of its telecommunications system and adapt to the changing technological and threat environment,” said the Canadian government.
The measures will be implemented as part of a new telecommunications security framework with amendments to be made to the Telecommunications Act.
Huawei and ZTE have long denied they pose a threat.
Huawei Canada said in a statement: “This is an unfortunate political decision that has nothing to do with cyber security or any of the technologies in question.”
ZTE said in its own statement “we reject the premise of this announcement, which is highly speculative”.