Last week Huawei Australia decided to walk away from its membership of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association. It was a big decision for the company and was made after much consideration. In fact, the decision was discussed at Board level and with our global management.
Huawei believed our business had been poorly represented by AMTA and our positions were not aligned in relation to the current government policy to ban all Chinese companies from participating in Australia’s 5G roll-out. The impact of this ban on our industry, and more importantly Australian consumers, had not been fully addressed by AMTA.
AMTA’s refusal to highlight the real impact on the Australian telecommunications landscape from the Government’s shortsighted 5G decision was extremely disappointing. Huawei raised its concerns several times. We didn’t want to be singled out, but we wanted AMTA to fight for an open and competitive telecommunications marketplace and highlight the impact the ban would have on Australian consumers and our industry.
Given the technical advice presented to the Australian Government on the split between the core and non-core parts of a 5G network was clearly at odds with the global 5G standards and the actual deployment of 5G around the world, AMTA had an important voice to ensure these policy decisions were based on facts and the correct technology design. AMTA’s decision to stay silent was in stark contrast to similar associations around the world.
The trade body that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, the GSMA, was very clear with its public comments on the effects of such a ban on the industry in Europe:
“As with 4G, robust competition among network infrastructure suppliers is essential to European operators’ ability to deliver innovative services to European citizens and businesses at competitive and affordable prices – Limiting or stalling the deployment of 5G or requiring changes to existing 4G infrastructure, risks leaving European consumers and businesses behind.”
The United Kingdom industry association, Mobile UK, was very public with its support for a competitive and inclusive vendor environment. It commissioned a study into the impact of removing Huawei from the UK 5G technology mix. The report concluded that the UK 5G roll-out would be delayed by 18 -24 months and declared:
“A full restriction would also see operators face additional and significant unforeseen spend on replacing equipment and leave the resilience of the supply chain effectively dependent on only two vendors with a loss in competition that has driven technological progress – we calculate the cost to the UK economy of delay in 5G roll-out at between £4.5bn and £6.8bn depending on the severity of any restriction placed on Huawei. This is a loss across the mobile sector, related industries, and the economy at large.”
Australia cannot think it can somehow escape the impacts that have been clearly articulated across Europe and the UK. We would be doing a disservice to the Australian people by pretending there is no impact on our economy by the 5G ban.
Huawei has a proud history in Australia. This year marks our 15th year and in that time we have become a major part of Australia’s telecommunication landscape. We were the first to bring the 3G dongle to Australia, first to deliver 4G, built Australia’s largest private 4G network in the Cooper Basin and we are the largest mobile technology supplier in Australia. We have enabled a competitive and innovative mobile sector delivering lower prices, better services, more choices and wider coverage for Australian consumers.
We have done this over the past 15 years without any security issues and have never had any incident that would cause any concern about our business operations in Australia. It was extremely disappointing AMTA stayed silent when individuals and organisations attacked our staff and company with ridiculous and baseless allegations.
Huawei and AMTA have a totally different view of what will happen to 5G in Australia. In recent speeches and media commentary AMTA continued to claim that Australia is a 5G leader. This is not the case. In fact, a recent global study showed Australia is the only country in the world where 5G services are slower than the current 4G services. Huawei has also undertaken its own tests clearly showing our 4G technology is faster and has better performance than the 5G deployed in Australia.
Without Huawei, Australian’s will pay 30% more for 5G and the roll-out plan for regional areas will be dire as the business case just doesn’t add up. The lack of competition will not only have an economic impact, it will also limit Australia’s telecom innovation environment. Due to the duopoly, (though we would argue that one vendor is most likely to dominate in Australia), there is no motivation to foster world leading innovation here. It’s not just about competition between vendors either. We are already seeing the devastating impacts of the 5G ban with TPG abandoning its plans to build a new network – depriving the market of a vibrant new entrant.
We expected more fight from AMTA to stand up for Australian mobile consumers and the telecommunications industry, as has happened in Europe and the UK.
The 5G ban has already impacted our business with 100 job losses and if the 5G ban continues on all Chinese companies we expect that number to grow to over 400 in the next 2 to 5 years. These jobs are highly skilled, technology based jobs that unfortunately don’t seem to be being picked up by our competitors, again another major impact to the whole industry.
Unfortunately, Huawei can no longer be part of an association that does not support an open, competitive and inclusive telecommunications marketplace.
Director Corporate Affairs