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Tech & Science

Huawei racks up another negative week

Chinese multinational technology company Huawei seems to be moving from one alleged impropriety to another, putting the future of the company at significant risk.

Earlier this month, France stopped just shy off an outright ban of Huawei networking and mobile equipment, but did officially discourage the use of the Chinese company’s products by domestic telecommunication companies. This came around the same time the UK decided to exclude Huawei from its own 5G network development and implementation, a move which drew significant ire from the Chinese government.

On Monday, August 24, India used the company in its border dispute with China, punishing Huawei by sanctioning the gradual but total removal of all equipment made by the company from the country.

In fact, 5G equipment testing involving any Chinese vendor has reportedly been halted indefinitely. Huawei had been one of the three biggest sellers of telecommunications gear in India, a market with close to a billion domestic users. The company had major contracts with government-owned BSNL, as well as private telecommunication companies Vodafone and Bharti Airtel.

Moreover, there were two more negative incidents for Huawei this week, both coming to the public eye on Wednesday, August 27. Firstly, Huawei lost a major patent case in the United Kingdom, with the supreme court ruling against the company in a technology licensing case.

In more detail, the supreme court stated that courts in the UK have the authority to call for telecommunications companies and mobile phone manufacturers to acquire a global patents licence or else face being legally compelled to do so in court. This will have a major effect on intellectual property cases, favouring patent holders, and potentially making the licensing costs for smartphone manufacturers much higher.

Finally, though the United Kingdom has decided to remove Huawei telecommunications equipment from the country, as mentioned above, a Huawei phone mast will be inexplicably placed next to a clandestine MI5, the UK’s secret security service, data centre.

The mast will be installed in an unspecified West London site, less than 30 metres away from the MI5 data centre. The base station from which the mast will derive power will be manufactured by Huawei.

This was revealed by Secret Bases website author Alan Turnbull. “It is not immediately clear whether it is an accidental encroachment by the mobile operators or a deliberate ploy by MI5 to tap into the networks at a high power cell site,” Turnbull said in his post.

“We have strict controls for how Huawei is deployed and it is not in any sensitive networks,” a spokeswoman from the British Home Office told UK outlet The Register.

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