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Globe Telecom brushes off spying concerns over Huawei

Globe Telecom chair Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala dismissed spying concerns over China’s Huawei, a longtime partner and a major supplier in the telco’s rollout of fifth-generation (5G) services.

In candid comments over a sensitive geopolitical issue, Zobel said on Friday that he believed that worries over Huawei had more to do with the technological rivalry between China and the United States and its allies.

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“5G technology is a transformative technology. It will fundamentally change the way products and services are provided and for the first time we have China being a threat to a traditional world order where the Western countries have provided that technology,” Zobel said in response to a shareholder’s question about the security risks posed by Huawei.

“I think the tension that we read about is really a tension that far exceeds issues of security. It is about positioning for dominance in this new space,” Zobel said during the annual meeting of Globe’s parent, Ayala Corp.

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Huawei’s role as an equipment supplier in the Philippines and other parts of the world had come under heavy criticism by the United States, which accused the Chinese company last year of stealing intellectual property.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently issued warnings against using Chinese technology.

In contrast, Zobel said Huawei was an “excellent” partner with superior technology and whose ties with Globe stretched back more than a decade.

“Frankly, I feel having built this relationship with them will give us a distinct advantage in our ability to supply 5G technology to the market,” Zobel said.

5G is a mobile standard that is expected to pave the way for ultra-fast internet speeds with less lag, making it ideal for powering everything from virtual healthcare and automated manufacturing to driverless cars.

Globe plans to launch pilot 5G services within the first half of 2019, the first use case being high-speed home internet, Globe chief commercial officer Alberto M. de Larrazabal said on Friday.

“5G [technology] is fairly nascent and many carriers are still trying to determine the best application,” he said.

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Globe’s rival PLDT Inc. is also testing 5G, having tapped as pilot partners Huawei, Swedish supplier Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia. PLDT chief technology and information advisor Joachim Horn said they had yet to select suppliers for the commercial rollout of 5G.

Despite his embrace of Huawei’s technology, Zobel said Globe took cybersecurity issues “very seriously” and had tapped an Israeli company to protect its network.

“We know Israel is a leader in this field and we purposely brought them in as a counterbalance on that [issue],” Zobel said.

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TAGS: China’s Huawei, fifth-generation (5G) services, Globe telecom, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala
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