Listen: Huawei CTO says 'there's no back door' on questions of 5G security

Paul Scanlan, who oversees the Chinese telecom giant's 5G business, joins this week to discuss the next-generation network

To understand the potential of fifth-generation (5G) telecoms networks is to understand the trajectory of growth in the global economy in the 21st century. The next-generation wireless network will underpin widespread use of connected devices and autonomous systems – the infrastructure of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Already in China, there are at least 180 million people connected to 5G. The network is also prevalent in 37 other countries – or about 12 per cent of the world’s phones.

Leading the charge in developing 5G is Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Paul Scanlan, CTO at Huawei, joins co-hosts Mustafa Alrawi and Kelsey Warner this week to talk about the potential of 5G, address security and look to the future of what this technology will mean to society.

He says Huawei’s dominance is no accident: “We spend more on R&D than the sum of all our competitors” with a focus on developing intellectual property, particularly in materials science – a key component for rolling out 5G networks.

But over the past year, the Trump administration has made efforts to prevent most US companies from conducting business with Huawei, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment vendor, citing national security concerns.

In May, Washington announced rules aimed at constricting Huawei’s ability to procure chips featuring US technology for use in 5G telecommunications network equipment. Numerous countries have also made moves to block Huawei from providing 5G infrastructure, including the UK, Sweden, Australia, Canada and Japan.

Huawei has repeatedly denied being a security risk.

Mr Scanlan insists “there’s no back door”.

"We do things differently. We're not a public listed company. We're a private company that made $122 billion [last year]."

He advocates for a public audit of the company’s systems and a certification that they are secure. He adds that over the last decade, the company has made all of its source code available for inspection by government bodies.

“We are promoting actively a concept where [we] have independent audit and certification,” he says.

“You want a product from any vendor? That's why Ericsson, Nokia doesn't matter. Cisco doesn't matter. If you use that product in your country, there's a certification body, there's an authorising body.

“Now test everything. If it passes all the tests, then it can be certified.”

In this episode

  • Let's talk 5G! (0m 43s)
  • Living with 5G (5m 32s)
  • How does market leadership happen? (9m 24s)
  • What makes China a different market (15m 00s)
  • Trump and a new administration (20m 13s)
  • 5G security and Huawei (21m 58s)
  • Headlines (25m 20s)

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