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LG U+ CEO says Huawei gear is not a risk

Ha says 5G network is secure and he’s getting paperwork to prove it
Dec 20,2018
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LG U+ CEO Ha Hyun-hwoi speaks during a year-end press briefing held Wednesday in central Seoul. [LG U+]
LG U+ CEO and Vice Chairman Ha Hyun-hwoi has made it clear that the carrier does not think there are any security threats related to its use of Huawei equipment in its 5G infrastructure.

Ha made the statement during a year-end press briefing on Wednesday in Yongsan District, central Seoul, rebuffing claims by some lawmakers that there is a risk of security leaks through the use of the Chinese tech giant’s equipment in the network. LG U+ currently partners with Huawei as well as Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Nokia for its 5G infrastructure.

According to Ha, the Chinese IT company has already applied for security certification of its 5G network equipment from an international certifying body in Spain. The CEO added the public will be able to see how secure the equipment is once the evaluations are complete next year.

“Security concerns apply to every equipment vendor we partner with, not only Huawei, and we need to thoroughly verify all the equipment [we use] is secure,” Ha said. “There are roughly 170 countries that are already using Huawei’s network equipment, and there hasn’t been any security problems reported so far.”

Locally, Huawei has set up equipment that abides by over 70 security guidelines set by the Korea Internet & Security Agency, according to LG U+.

The main reason for the carrier taking the risk of using the controversial equipment is because 5G infrastructure needs to be built in conjunction with the existing network equipment for 4G long term evolution (LTE), some of which LG U+ also bought from Huawei. Ha said price, technological competitiveness and the ability to deliver the equipment in a timely manner were also considered when choosing the vendor.

LG U+ has built 5,500 base stations to service the next-generation 5G network as of Wednesday, while its local competitors have reportedly established less than 1,000 5G base stations.

On why the mobile carrier is rushing to establish its 5G infrastructure, Ha said, “It is important to have a head start to have a competitive edge in [5G] services considering the quality tests we need to go through before March [when the high-speed network is commercialized for smartphones].”

Ha said the company invested roughly 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) to set up its 5G infrastructure, including at 5G spectrum auctions.

The company said it hopes to take up a larger share of the market, which is dominated by SK Telecom, with 50 percent, and KT, with 30 percent.

“In July 2011, when we first began the LTE service, our local market share was 17.7 percent, but the share increased to 21.2 percent over time as of the end of October,” LG U+ said in statement. “We think next year could be the best time to shake up the competing structure.”

The carrier is preparing a 5G-based smart factory service with its affiliates LG Electronics and IT service company LG CNS, targeting enterprise customers. For individual customers, LG U+ is focusing on augmented reality and virtual reality content that can offer an immersive experience of watching sports games and K-pop concerts at home.

The CEO also commented on speculations that the carrier will acquire paid TV service operator CJ Hello. Ha said it has opened up its options to cable TV operators other than CJ Hello and plans to finalize the deal within the first half of next year. Industry sources, however, still say negotiations between the two parties have nearly come to a close and final results are likely to come out around March.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]