Huawei’s NBN ban: A 24 hour round-up


roundup Australia’s major newspapers generally don’t include a stack of technology coverage every day — each one usually only employs a few staff to directly write technology-related articles every day. But when a big technology story breaks, as it did in the pages of the Financial Review last Saturday with the news that the Federal Government has blocked Chinese networking giant Huawei from participating in tenders for the National Broadband Network, it’s sometimes awe-inspiring to see what kind of resources a major newspaper can throw at such a issue.

Over the past couple of days, the Fin has allocated what looks like a dozen or so journalists onto the Huawei story, and the results have been incredible. It would be impossible for Delimiter (with our comparatively meagre resources) to keep up — and it looks like almost every other technology media outlet is suffering the same problem. Kudos to the AFR on this issue — it is really going the whole hog.

With this in mind, if you are interested in the Huawei NBN story, we can only recommend that you head to the the AFR and check out the following stories on the issue, where the paper has gathered the views of many, many different government and industry stakeholders on the issue. The best thing? None of it’s paywalled.

  • Huawei block splits opposition: In which it is revealed that Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis and former Liberal Senator Nick Minchin support the Huawei ban, although Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb has strongly criticised it (Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has yet to comment, and is believed to be overseas).
  • NBN chief says no price gouge despite Huawei ban: In which the AFR interviews NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley on the issue (NBN Co has previously declined to comment). Also in this article are revealed further details of NBN Co’s tendering processes, which had included Huawei.
  • Just don’t mention the (cyber) war, NBN or govt bans: Which deals with business reaction to the Huawei ban, as well as a speech on China/Australia relations which Treasurer Wayne Swan gave this morning.
  • Huawei’s growing US image problem: Where the AFR’s Washington chronicles the situation on the ground in Washington, where the US Government has similar concerns to Australia’s Government regarding Huawei.
  • Symantec pulls out of Huawei venture: In which security firm Symantec has canned a joint venture with Huawei over fears it could lead to issues obtaining classified information from the US Government.
  • IT security experts back NBN ban on Huawei: In which a number of local security experts back the Government’s stance on the issue.

And there’s been some excellent pieces of reporting from other media outlets as well:

Govt quiet on broadband security checks (from the Dominion Post in New Zealand): In which the New Zealand Government won’t talk about what relevance the Huawei NBN ban has to New Zealand’s own NBN project, which Huawei is a key supplier to.

Foreign minister urges Huawei to stay in Australia: In which Bob Carr tells the ABC that Huawei should stay in Australia and continue expanding its operations. We can’t find the ABC radio piece where Carr said this, so we’ve linked to a SmartCompany roundup here.

In a broad sense, the interesting thing about the overwhelming majority of the coverage is that it focuses almost purely on the geopolitical angles associated with Huawei’s ban from the NBN tenders, and not at all on any of the technical merits of Huawei’s equipment or the company’s track record internationally, which, as Huawei pointed out this week, is very strong, with the company already working with the majority of major global telcos, including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.

At some point I do want to weigh in further on this issue on Delimiter and do some further analysis of the situation. However, I think the current debate is very much dominated by issues on which there is no real evidence to discuss. Currently no real information has been presented about any links which Huawei has to the Chinese military or government, and no claims have been made that the company has actively been involved in espionage. I want to wait until the chaff thrown up around this issue has settled down somewhat before commenting further on it — and as you can see, there is a lot of chaff.

Image credit: Huawei, Tony Brown


  1. Man I hope you’re around if my car breaks down ’cause you’re really good at pushing stuff. I’ve got to wonder if you have any sort of dog in this barney (not that there’s anything wrong with that (still miss Seinfeld)). Not one other comment all day………

  2. Renai, I was only have watching but either on Capitial Hill or the Technology Quarter on ABC24 this afternoon they had a Greens MP (female) and an ALP MP (male) and they were talking about the Huawei banning (never seen them before so can’t name them).

    During the conversation the ALP MP advised the reason for the banning was due to security advice from ASIO, but he couldn’t elaborate on that.

    I can’t see it on iView or a replay on the program guide so I can’t rewatch it, but it might be something worth finding out more details on, especially since as you’ve said there are carriers already using Huawei gear in their networks.

  3. I can’t help but remark how the Author Renai has been such an advocate for HW and really policing the comment boards to scrub negative opinions; I’d think you were a shareholder… if that’s possible with an unlisted company operating out of China, who operates completely independent of the PRC government, with no demonstrated actions of engaging in espionage, or helping others to do the same, except the whole Iran thing, like little brother ZTE.

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