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PLDT, Globe downplay US’ blacklisting of Huawei

Industry giants PLDT Inc. and Globe Telecom are downplaying the impact of the US government’s blacklisting of Chinese tech behemoth Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., a crucial partner for both telcos as they move toward the launch of fifth-generation (5G) mobile services this year.

In what was viewed as an escalation of a trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies, the US commerce department last week included Huawei and dozens of affiliates in a list that effectively bars the latter from purchasing critical US technology and components without prior approval.

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Huawei, a global leader in 5G—a new standard that is expected to revolutionize how consumers and businesses harness the internet—relies heavily on business with US technology suppliers, for which there are few viable alternatives.

Despite these concerns, Globe chief technology and information officer Gil Genio said it was “too early to worry” while noting that the Philippines’ relatively small size was an advantage.

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“There are far larger 5G rollouts in many other countries,” Genio told the Inquirer.

Ramon Isberto, PLDT spokesperson, also said they were waiting to see how the issue develops.

“In any case, we have adopted a multi-vendor strategy for 5G. This gives us more flexibility,” he said.

Those views were likewise echoed by businessman Dennis Uy, who heads Udenna Corp., which is part of the presumed third mobile player Mislatel Consortium, backed by China Telecom.

The worries stem from the interdependent nature of the global technology supply chain, which includes US-made chipsets and software that Huawei uses to churn out cutting edge products.

“As an analogy, China may have the latest and greatest home designs but it’s still the Americans who manufacture and control the distribution of cement for the foundation of the house,” an IT industry expert told the Inquirer.

Huawei, in a statement posted on social media site Twitter, said the US blacklist would hurt American companies and jobs and “disrupt the current collaboration and mutual trust that exist in the global supply chain.”

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Philippine telcos have openly expressed their preference for Huawei, whose network technology was said to be more advanced than its closest rivals.

It comes amid warnings by the United States that Chinese equipment carried espionage risks and as the Philippine government, under President Duterte, embraces China as a crucial ally despite an ongoing maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

On the part of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, acting Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said the US blacklist would not affect their policy of letting private telcos choose their equipment suppliers.

“However, we have required the telcos to assure the government that their network will not be a threat to national security,” he said. Rio said monitoring would be carried out by a third-party cybersecurity audit team.

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TAGS: Business, Globe, Huawei, PLDT
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