Kerry Stokes offers sage advice on 5G

Jeremy Mitchell, Director of Corporate and Public Affairs at Huawei Australia Jeremy Mitchell, Director of Corporate and Public Affairs at Huawei Australia

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Kerry Stokes offers sage advice on 5G

Even nearly two years after then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull banned Huawei from delivering our 5G technology in Australia the political debate around that decision lingers on.

Sadly, much of that debate – as is the trend in the instant-opinion days of social media – is being fueled by comments from people with no knowledge of either Huawei or 5G.

That’s why the comments this morning from Kerry Stokes, Chairman of Seven West Media and Chairman of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, were so welcome in that they came from someone that actually knows the telecoms industry.

Back in 2010 Mr. Stokes company Vivid Wireless actually became the first Australian network operator to deliver 4G technology to our country, using technology from Huawei to launch services in Perth to deliver mobile broadband to consumers.

That background knowledge makes Mr. Stokes comments on Huawei and 5G in The West Australian this morning particularly interesting.

“I think it [5G] is potentially the answer to [Australian] download speeds, [but] it’s no good rolling out dud 5G technology, we actually need to have the very latest and best 5G technology and I don’t think you can end up with the best 5G technology unless Huawei is in the mix.”

Having put his own money into the industry Mr. Stokes knows the telco sector, so his warnings about the impact of Huawei’s continuing exclusion from the 5G market should not merely be dismissed as the rumblings of a billionaire worried about the rivers of gold from China.

Indeed, unlike other leading business figures, Mr. Stokes rarely makes public comments on political issues and is extremely reserved and circumspect – giving his views on this subject even further weight.

The reality is that Huawei, thanks to our current US$15 billion per annum R&D investment – more than double that of our European rivals combined, is at least 18 months ahead of our nearest rivals in 5G.

So, countries launching with Huawei technology, such as the UK, South Korea, Philippines and many more are getting access to technology streets ahead of that being deployed elsewhere.

Furthermore, given the ongoing uncertainty over the future of other 5G technology providers, we have made it quite clear in our submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into 5G that under the current policy settings Australia will end up with a 5G technology vendor monopoly for all three carriers – clearly a disastrous outcome.

What is more, three separate economic reports have concluded that without access to Huawei’s technology that Australia will be paying around 30% more for its 5G technology compared to Europe or the rest of Asia.

Given Australia’s geographical distance from the rest of the world then Australia needs access to the best technologies in order to be in the best position to compete with the rest of the world, a point Kerry Stokes clearly understands.

Unfortunately the current debate around China and Huawei are not based on facts or technology, there are simply too many ideologues in the debate intent on pursuing their own agendas.

Setting those ideologues aside and focussing on ‘A Bigger Picture’ of ensuring Australia gets access to world-leading communications is crucially important if we are not to repeat the $51 billion mistake we made with the NBN.

As Mr. Stokes points out, we really can’t afford to have another second-rate broadband network.

Jeremy Mitchell is Director of Corporate and Public Affairs at Huawei Australia

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