Huawei the central topic at MWC 2019

By Yeo Jun-suk
  • Published : Feb 26, 2019 - 16:21
  • Updated : Feb 26, 2019 - 19:47

BARCELONA, Spain -- With debate swirling around Chinese tech giant Huawei and security concerns about the use of its equipment in other countries, the matter was also high on the agenda for global telecom companies this week at the world’s largest mobile gathering.

Members of the body running the annual MWC events, the GSM Association or GSMA, had engaged in “heated debate” over the extent to which they should get involved in the controversy in the face of growing pressure, according to insiders.

Huawei at MWC 2019 (Yeo Jun-suk/The Korea Herald)

The telecom operators agreed in principle on the need for a united front amid concerns that the burgeoning issue might hurt their business interests.

“From the mobile operators’ perspective, we need a healthy ecosystem for a secure supply chain -- regardless of whether the accusations against Huawei are true or false,” said an official, emphasizing that the issue should be dealt with from a technological point of view.

Controversy persists over the US government’s pressure on its allies to stop using Huawei equipment for fifth-generation networks amid an extensive tech war between the US and China.

In a letter dated Feb. 14, the GSMA addressed the situation in Europe, indicating -- albeit in toned-down wording -- that circumstances in Europe and other regions might differ in the quest to consider “security, competition, innovation and consumer impact.”

“Specifically actions that disrupt the equipment supply for the various segments of the network, will increase costs to European operators, businesses and citizens; delay 5G deployment by years across Europe and potentially also jeopardize the functioning of existing 4G networks upon which 5G is intended to be built,” read the statement.

By Yeo Jun-suk, Korea Herald correspondent