Canada has rolled out the welcome mat to Huawei, even in hockey
As parts of the world move to ban Huawei Technologies Co. out of security concerns, Canada has embraced the Chinese company.
Australia and New Zealand have effectively banned Huawei gear from the latest generation of their mobile networks while others such as the U.K. and Germany may follow suit due to worries it could be outfitted to spy on their host nations. U.S. regulators also have moved to extend a crackdown on the company.
Instead of joining its peers, Canadian phone companies, governments and universities have all helped the Shenzhen-based company develop its 5G tech. For its part, Huawei has worked to become a standup corporate citizen in the country, sponsoring hockey on television, the country’s main film festival, and spending heavily on research and development.
Concerns over Huawei lept to the fore this week after the company’s chief financial officer Wanzhou Meng was arrested in Vancouver at the request of U.S. authorities, in a case with few details, though possibly linked to a probe of potential violations of Iran sanctions. She’s now facing extradition to the U.S. and China has demanded her release, renewing trade tensions between the two countries and throwing the spotlight back on security issues swirling around the company.
U.S. lawmakers have urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to block Huawei from 5G in Canada. In his latest comments on the subject, Trudeau said in August the country relies on its security agencies to keep the country safe from cyber spying.
“If the other countries have already banned it there might be more pressure for the Canadian telcos to ban it as well,” Desmond Lau, an analyst at Veritas Investment Research Corp. who covers Canadian telecommunications companies, said by phone.
Huawei is racing to develop 5G technology, the fifth-generation mobile network that could be 100 times faster than current technology and spur breakthrough advances in such things as autonomous vehicles.
The company is the third-biggest supplier to Vancouver-based Telus Corp., one of Canada’s top three network carriers, according to supply chain data compiled by Bloomberg. The two companies partnered on a 5G pilot last year. Huawei has also teamed with BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada on an “Internet of Things” pilot project to help improve the country’s vineyard operations.
Representatives for Telus and Huawei didn’t immediately return calls and emails seeking comment.
Huawei employs more than 500 people in the country. It has a research centre in Ottawa and has filed more than 1,200 patent applications since 2009 and has projects with at least 10 universities across Canada, including the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. The company has received tax credits for research and development from the federal government, Ontario, B.C. and Quebec and said it’s ranked among the top 100 R&D spenders in Canada.