Canada said it plans to ban the use of China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE 5G network in order to protect national security.
“We intend to exclude Huawei and ZTE from our 5G networks,” Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told reporters in Ottawa. “Providers who already have this equipment installed will be required to cease its use and remove it under the plans we’re announcing today.”
Champagne added that companies will be required to remove their 5G gear by June, 2024, would not be reimbursed. Companies using their 4G equipment must be removed by the end of 2027.
The decision – widely expected – had been delayed amid diplomatic tensions with China. Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network – which consists of Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand – has already banned the equipment.
In September 2018, Canada first announced it would review the possible threats to national security in adopting Huawei equipment.
Then in December of the same year, Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada on a U.S. warrant, creating a long-running dispute with China that finally ended last September with Meng’s release.
Thursday’s decision comes after telecom companies in Canada already opted to use other companies’ 5G hardware.
Alykhan Velshi, vice president of corporate affairs for Huawei in Canada, said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp that the company is still waiting to hear what sort of national security threats they think Huawei poses.
Huawei has 1,500 employees in Canada, mostly in research and development, and sells products like mobile phones, and would continue to do so.
In 2020, Bell Canada and rival Telus – two of the biggest wireless providers – teamed up with Sweden’s Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia to build 5G networks, ditching Huawei for the project despite using Huawei 4G gear.
In addition to the ban, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said Canada would draft new legislation to protect critical financial, telecommunications, energy and transport infrastructure from cyber threats.