Optus concedes Huawei ban means 5G launching without best tech

Optus has conceded Australia’s ban on Huawei technology has led to building its 5G network without the best available equipment.

"From a pure technology perspective, Huawei is probably ahead of the other three," said Optus CEO Allen Lew to The Sydney Morning Herald. "But what we've got from the other suppliers will enable us to provide a globally competitive service."

The operator adjusted its suppliers and Lew is confident the rollout of its future services will not be affected.

Speaking about the ban last Wednesday, Huawei Australia Chairman John Lord said:

"If you remove one of the key players out of a major bidding process, you weaken your competition.

You've removed the largest and leading player out of the competition, and I think that's to Australia's disadvantage.

We may not end up with one of the best 5G networks like other countries."

Optus launched an early version of its 5G home broadband service today. Limited to two suburbs in Canberra and a site in Sydney, it comes with a 50Mbps satisfaction guarantee and the promise of up to 1Gbps peak speeds in the future.

“This is a historic day for Optus as we begin our exciting 5G journey with the announcement of Optus’ 5G Home Broadband service,” commented Lew.

Optus plans to have 47 more sites online by March 2019. Rival operator Telstra announced earlier this month it had signed deals with certain smartphone manufacturers to launch 5G phones exclusively on its network in the first half of the year.

While it’s unable to use Huawei equipment, Optus is taking a multi-vendor approach to its 5G network. Nokia is supplying the 5G RAN and Fastmile 5G CPEs for Optus’ current 5G home broadband.

The security benefits of having multiple vendors in a network is one trumpeted by a Canadian intelligence official last year on the country’s decision not to ban Huawei from its 5G networks.

Scott Jones, Head of Ottawa’s Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, believes excluding telecoms equipment manufacturers will increase risks as – if a specific vendor’s equipment is compromised – it would represent a larger proportion of the network.

Countries around the world are still mulling bans of Chinese equipment over fears of state control and espionage.

Huawei maintains it can, and would, refuse any government request to conduct surveillance or attacks on another country. An official last month argued that being caught even once conducting malign activity would be terminal for its global business.

Earlier this week, the US filed 23 charges against Huawei and continues to petition its allies not to use Chinese 5G equipment.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their experiences? Attend the Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more.

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