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KT skips Huawei for 5G

Second carrier to pass over Chinese company in network build-out
Nov 09,2018
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KT has chosen Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Nokia as suppliers of 5G network equipment. As expected, Huawei was excluded from the list.

“In choosing 5G equipment providers, the company considered a wide range of factors: the level of technology, investment costs and management stability based on the compatibility with the existing LTE network,” KT said in a statement.

The bid results, announced by the company Thursday, come a month after SK Telecom named Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Nokia as its 5G equipment providers.

This is the second time Huawei was left out despite having participated in internal tests along with the three selected.

SKT and KT’s choices were anticipated because both had used equipment from Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia for their 4G LTE networks.

Compatibility of equipment is an advantage for mobile carriers in terms of cost and maintenance, especially in the early stages when 5G equipment is not fully installed nationwide.

LG U+ is the only one among Korea’s three mobile carriers that has not yet announced 5G equipment suppliers. The smallest mobile carrier is likely to include Huawei on its list. It partnered with the Chinese company for its 4G LTE network, along with Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia.

An LG spokesman said Thursday that the company “does not have plans to openly disclose selected bidders for 5G network equipment at the moment,” as it is not mandatory.

However, LG U+ Vice Chairman Ha Hyun-hwoi gave a strong hint at the parliamentary audit late last month when he gave a positive answer to a lawmaker’s question on whether it was “unavoidable” to use Huawei’s 5G equipment as its 4G equipment was from the same company.

The biggest advantage of Huawei’s 5G equipment is cost efficiency. The Chinese company is known to charge prices that are 20 to 30 percent lower than other global competitors for high-quality 5G equipment. A factor that argues against Huawei is security concerns.

Due to its ties to the Chinese government, there have been worries that the company’s equipment is being used for spying. In August, the U.S. and Australian governments banned Huawei from supplying equipment for their 5G wireless infrastructure citing security reasons. Britain said in July it “is less confident” about the integrity of Huawei products.

The concern is shared by some local customers as well. Online petitions at the Blue House’s official website have been posted since June requesting a stop to LG’s adoption of Huawei’s 5G equipment. Huawei has been denying such allegations.

In a press release last month, the Chinese tech company highlighted that, despite ongoing security concerns, there has been zero cases of actual information leakage in the past.

“We have supplied LTE equipment for LG U+ since 2013, and until now, there were no cases of security accidents,” said the statement. “After multiple verifications by the government, it has been proved that there have been no problems.”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]