An alternative to Huawei-dominated 5G needs to be developed

Given that 5G is a core technology which will lay the foundation for a smarter, more advanced economy, the costs in delaying the rollout of a Chinese 5G is cheap in comparison to the absolute loss of privacy, freedom and freewill to a totalitarian regime.

According to sources familiar with the matter at hand, many of the world’s biggest tech companies have informed their employees that they should stop talking about technology and technical standards with their counterparts at Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

The development comes in the wake of the United States blacklisting the Chinese tech firm.

Among the big global tech giants is chipmaker Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc, mobile research firm InterDigital Wireless Inc and South Korea’s LG Uplus.

Discussion on technology and technical standards are typically routine at international meetings where engineers gather around to discuss and set technical standards for communications technologies.

Incidentally, the U.S. Department of Commerce has not banned contact between companies and Huawei. However, on May 16, the agency has placed Huawei on an Entity’s List, thus barring it from doing business with U.S. companies without prior government approval. Subsequently, the Commerce Department has authorized U.S. companies to interact with Huawei in standards bodies through August “as necessary for the development of 5G standards.”

Many global tech companies have started provided guidance to their engineers to ensure that the company is in compliance with U.S. regulations.

Many employees at smaller telecom firms stated, they have not been told to avoid discussions with Huawei at standards meetings; in fact, many vendors continue to support existing deals with Huawei.

“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding from what I’m seeing and hearing from clients and colleagues, as far as what the (Commerce Department) restrictions actually entail,” said Doug Jacobson, a Washington-based export controls lawyer.

He went on to add, companies prohibiting their employees contacting Huawei was “excessive, because the restrictions don’t preclude communication, only the transfer of technology.”

The United States has alleged that Huawei is a front for China and that Beijing can use Huawei to conduct widespread espionage.

According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which placed restrictions on Huawei engineers’ ability to participate in peer reviews for its publications, “Huawei isn’t just some company. They, by many accounts, are the leader in 5G technology. Excluding them is very hard to work around, so it does stand to disrupt the entire project,” said Jorge Contreras, a law professor at the University of Utah and a member of IEEE.

“If the idea is to create a non-Chinese 5G, I’m not sure that’s possible. Even if it is, would it be as good?”

Here’s hoping the Nokia alternative is better.

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