Decision to ban Huawei and ZTE from 5G wasn't easy, PM Trudeau says
Decision to ban Huawei and ZTE from 5G wasn't easy, PM Trudeau says
On the heels of news that Canada is banning Huawei Technologies and ZTE from participating in the country’s 5G wireless networks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the decision wasn't easy to make.
And, the prime minister defended the timing of the decision, saying that while it will be years before all use of products from these Chinese companies will be outlawed, it's happening before the country is even more interconnected by the next-generation telecommunications infrastructure.
"We're very aware that this is a decision that hasn't been an easy one, but it's been an important one," Trudeau told reporters on Friday. "We took this decision to make sure that Canadians remain safe, that our telecommunication networks and our businesses remain secure, and it is the right decision to take for Canada's interests."
As part of Thursday's announcement that Canada will be prohibiting telecommunication companies in Canada from including any products or services from these "high-risk" vendors in their networks, the federal government outlined a proposed timeline for the ban to come into effect, and to have providers who already have Huawei or ZTE equipment installed to remove it.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino made the announcement about prohibiting these “high-risk vendors” in Ottawa on Thursday.
Specifically, the federal government says following a legislative process, it intends to see the Canadian telecommunications industry:
- Cease procurement of new 4G or 5G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE by September 2022;
- Terminate the use of any new or existing 5G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE by June 2024; and
- End the use of any new or existing 4G equipment and services from Huawei and ZTE by December 2027.
This decision cited national security concerns, but when asked Friday by CTV News why—if these companies pose a risk—it'll be years before use of their equipment and services will have to stop, Trudeau didn't directly answer.
"One of the big preoccupations around this, is the coming in of 5G networks which will feature far more ubiquitous as connections to the internet… It's moving towards the internet of things, and it makes it extremely important to ensure that as we start into this 5G world, we're able to from the outset protect Canadian safety and security," Trudeau said. "And that's exactly why this was the right time to take this decision, even as we move forward into adopting new technologies and new ways of doing things, we need to keep Canadians safe."
A senior government source, speaking to CTVNews.ca on background, said that the government’s proposed timelines for the telecommunications industry to stop using Huawei or ZTE equipment or supplies were made while considering the time it will take to see the current 4G and limited 5G infrastructure replaced, which will require new procurements as well as installation, which the government will not be providing compensation for.
The source also indicated that while national security is the basis for their policy decision, the concern is primarily about future risks as 5G becomes more predominant, noting that the current infrastructure has been evaluated under the Communications Security Establishment’s security review program.
According to The Associated Press, a spokesperson for China's foreign ministry said that Canada's citing of security risks was unfounded, contrary to the principles of free trade, and pledged to evaluate the move and take steps needed to protect the rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.
Canada launched a broader security review of 5G wireless technology in 2018, and in the years since had promised an announcement was forthcoming. On Thursday, both the opposition Conservatives and New Democrats decried how long it took for Canada to make this decision.
On Friday, Trudeau defended the time it took to “carefully analyze the situation,” and said that while it may lead to challenges at the World Trade Organization, the federal government stands by its decision.
He also indicated that the federal government will be doing more to ensure Canadian institutions, companies and Canadians have enhanced cyberattack defences.
“That unfortunately is the reality we're in right now,” Trudeau said.
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