Solomons Islands Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela says the nation has cancelled a major deal with China-based telecom giant Huawei Technologies due to security issues, Reuters reported.
Australia has agreed to fund underwater internet cables and a cyber-security center for the Solomon Islands, stalling plans by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies that could have compromised Australian internet security.
The Reuters report did not mention about the new technology vendor as the replacement of Huawei.
Huawei is also facing similar issues in the US. Recently, US president Donald Trump blocked the semiconductor company Broadcom from acquiring Qualcomm due to the alleged support of China behind Broadcom.
Huawei is also facing challenges in selling smartphones to some government departments, retail giants and telecom operator AT&T. FCC recently said it would block some technology companies from USOF deals if they are threat to the nation without indicating the name of Huawei or ZTE, another China-based technology company.
Solomons Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela during a visit to Canberra made the announcement on the arrangement of funding for underwater internet cables and a cyber-security center.
Rick Houenipwela told Australian Broadcasting Corp. last week that the contract signed with Huawei in 2017 was scrapped because of “concerns raised” by Australia.
Until Australia stepped in, Huawei had planned to lay the cables for the Pacific archipelago nation, which could ultimately have given the Chinese company access to a broadband hub in Sydney. Analysts say that would have raised a ‘red flag’ for Australian internet security.
“I would not elaborate on security issues, that’s not appropriate, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Canberra. “What we offered the Solomon Islands, and they have accepted, is an alternative to the offer, and ours is cheaper.”
In April, Australia effectively scuppered the Huawei plan with a promise to join the Solomons, and neighboring Papua New Guinea to high-speed internet via an undersea cable to Sydney, setting aside roughly A$200 million in its May budget for the task.
A Huawei spokesman told Reuters it was never informed of any security problems with its planned cables for the Solomons.
Huawei has faced scrutiny from security authorities around the world and especially in the United States, where it was the subject of a 2012 investigation over whether its equipment provides an opportunity for foreign espionage – something the company has consistently denied.
It was blocked on security grounds from working on Australia’s national broadband system in 2012.
Jonathan Pryke, a Pacific Islands foreign policy expert with the Lowy Institute, an Australian think-tank, said Australia’s move also pushed back Chinese diplomatic efforts in the Solomons, one of six in the Pacific to have official relations with Taiwan.
Australia’s broadband network itself has come under fire at home for poor service and slow speeds. With an average internet speed of 11.1 megabits per second, Australia ranks 50th in the world, according to the most recent State of the Internet report by Akamai Technologies, a specialist in internet speed technology.