Huawei CFO loses first legal battle in extradition case

Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng, the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, has lost her first legal battle in Canada and will now have to face an extradition case.

This story had been lost in the throng of news over the last few months, but it will almost certainly start to attract international interest once again. Not only is this a landmark legal case to set precedent, it will act as fuel to be tossed on the embers of the burning US-China relationship.

“For the reasons I will give, I find that the allegations depend on the effects of US sanctions,” a ruling from Honourable Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes of the Supreme Court of British Columbia stated. “However, I conclude that those effects may play a part in the determination of whether double criminality is established.

“For that reason, Ms Meng’s application will be dismissed.”

Although this is a loss for Meng and Huawei, this is only the first stage. The next court case will be to decide whether Meng can be extradited to the US.

Once arrested and the prospect of extradition to the US to face sanction violation charges emerged on the horizon, Meng’s legal team filed objections to the process on the grounds of ‘Double Criminality’. This is a rule in extradition cases which states that an individual can only be extradited if the law in questions exists in both countries.

The team claimed that as Meng allegedly broke US sanctions against Iran, not Canadian sanctions, Double Criminality could not be satisfied. However, the Supreme Court has confirmed there are relevant laws in Canada, therefore Meng is eligible for extradition.

“Huawei is disappointed in the ruling by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, we have repeatedly expressed confidence in Ms Meng’s innocence,” a Huawei statement reads. “Huawei continues to stand with Ms Meng in her pursuit for justice and freedom.

“We expect the Canadian judicial system will ultimately prove Ms Meng’s innocence. Ms Meng’s lawyers will continue to work tirelessly to see justice is served.”

Meng was originally arrested in December 2018 while in Vancouver airport on layover to China. Canada made the arrest at the request of the US, with the US claiming Meng knowingly violated an embargo against Iran and misled US banks in 2013 by not making connections to Hong Kong firm Skycom, which works with Iranian parties, known.

While this is another sign of US aggression towards Huawei, the Chinese Government is bound to get involved sooner rather than later in protection of one of its domestic champions. Tensions between the two global superpowers could once again be ratcheted up a level, and it would be no surprise to see additional tariffs or corporate exclusions introduced as a result.

The political conflict will continue in the background, but for Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng, attention will turn to the extradition case. Cynics will suggest that as soon as Meng crosses the border to the US it is game over, so enough money will have to be thrown at the Canadian extradition case if Meng is to return to China in the foreseeable future, if ever.

City of Austin jumps in bed with NTT Data for smart city project

While some of the buzz surrounding smart cities has quietened, NTT Data is boasting of a new initiative with the City of Austin to address traffic-related issues.

Initially focused on easing congestion through the Texan city, the initiative could be expanded to numerous other areas for traffic management. This is a very small trial for the moment, focused on intersections of Cesar Chavez Street and Trinity Street and Neches Street and 8th Street, though additional locations will be added in time.

“We are piloting NTT because these solutions have the potential to help Austin digitally transform how people move safely through the city,” said Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director of Smart Mobility at Austin Transportation. “By better understanding the data and causal effects of problems we see in challenging areas, we can develop effective solutions that meet the community’s needs.

“Evaluating data is key to reaching our Vision Zero goal of eliminating fatalities and serious injuries on Austin roadways. Smart technologies like this one will help us prioritize improvements to make our streets safer.”

Using NTT’s Accelerate Smart data platform, the project will collect traffic-related and mobility data through vehicle counting and classification, as well as wrong way vehicle occurrences. The project will allow for the delivery of real-time alerts and traffic statistics that improve predictions, traffic management and future infrastructure planning.

This initiative ties into the overarching Vision Zero project in the city, to end deaths and serious injuries on Austin roadways. The majority of these projects are civil engineering based, adding a second left-turn lane to Slaughter Lane at South 1st Street for example, but all are underpinned by data collection and analysis.

Arizona Attorney General sues Google for misleading data collection practices

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has filed a lawsuit against Google for what he describes as ‘deceptive and unfair’ methods to secure valuable personal data.

While it is hardly unusual for Google to find itself on the wrong side of right when it comes to data collection and privacy practices, registering the attention of a single Attorney General could be a worrying start. These lawyers have a tendency to swarm around an adversary, collecting support from counterparts in other states. Simply look at how easily New York Attorney General Letitia James rallied disciples in failed opposition to the T-Mobile US and Sprint mega-merger, as well as a previous antitrust case against Google.

“While Google users are led to believe they can opt-out of location tracking, the company exploits other avenues to invade personal privacy,” said Brnovich. “It’s nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements without your knowledge or consent. This is contrary to the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act and even the most innovative companies must operate within the law.”

The basis of this lawsuit is whether Google is acting with the rules set forth in Arizona consumer law. Brnovich details that the majority of Google’s revenues are derived from the collection of valuable personal information, though he also claims it is often done without the users’ consent or knowledge.

In 2018, the Associated Press ran an article which claimed Google was continuing to collect data even when the user explicitly removed consent. This practice seemingly carried on until the mid-2018’s and forms the basis of the case for Arizona. However, this is only the tip of the spear.

Following a two-year investigation, the Arizona Attorney General office has filed a 50-page complaint against Google in the Maricopa County Superior Court. Featuring internal documents, under-oath testimony from Google employees, as well as external opinions from academia condemning the activities.

A significant proportion of the information has been redacted and will be examined in private, thanks to confidentiality claims from Google, but the State lawyers will be pushing for more to be made public. Over the course of the next few weeks this could be a very interesting case to keep an eye on as details of the internal workings of Google are potentially exposed. Few people genuinely understand how Google works, so this could be very illuminating.

This will be an interesting case, though Brnovich will have to rally some support very quickly. The privacy advocacy organisations are remaining quiet for the moment, as are other politicians and Attorney Generals. That might change by this afternoon as our transatlantic cousins wake up but fighting the powerful Google legal department solo is unlikely to end well for Arizona’s Attorney General.

UK’s National Cyber Security Centre launches another Huawei probe

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has confirmed it is attempting to understand what impact potential US sanction directed towards Huawei would have on UK networks.

With Huawei equipment and components delicately woven throughout the complex tapestry of telecoms in the UK, sanctions from the US which would materially inhibit Huawei operations should be a major concern.

“The security and resilience of our networks is of paramount importance,” a cross-government statement reads. “Following the US announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK’s networks.”

There have been reports circulating through the press suggesting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is once again considering the role of Huawei in the telecoms landscape. These rumours are a separate story, but directly linked; the US wants to reduce the commercial opportunities for Huawei, and this is yet another attempt.

First, the US Government attempted the diplomatic approach, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempting to prove his debating skills. Secondly, fear was introduced with the US attempted to reignite xenophobic fears of communism. The third strategy was more directly aggressive; work with Huawei or have access to our intelligence data, you can’t have both.

None of these strategies worked, but the latest attempt is an interesting one. If Huawei’s supply chain can be compromised, the UK (and other) Governments might have to turn its back on the Chinese vendor because it does not meet the standards required for resiliency tests.

Should the UK Government be revising its position, it would certainly be a blow to Huawei’s credibility.

“We’ve seen the reports from unnamed sources which simply don’t make sense,” said Victor Zhang of Huawei. “The government decided in January to approve our part in the 5G rollout, because Britain needs the best possible technologies, more choice, innovation and more suppliers, all of which means more secure and more resilient networks.

“As a private company, 100% owned by employees, which has operated in the UK for 20 years, our priority has been to help mobile and broadband companies keep Britain connected, which in this current health crisis has been more vital than ever. This is our proven track-record.”

Looking at the other rumours outside this confirmed investigation into the impact of US sanctions on Huawei, the underlying cause could be directed back tor Conservative backbencher Sir Iain Duncan Smith. Once a prominent voice in the House of Commons, Duncan Smith’s influence has been wilting rapidly, so much so this is one of the first times anyone has paid attention to him for what feels like decades.

In March, Duncan Smith led a small group of Tory revolters in opposition of the Supply Chain Review. Instead of limiting ‘High Risk vendors’ to 35% of any telecoms network, this group wanted them banned completely. These politicians clearly did not understand the complexities of the situation and debates were riddled with inaccuracies, but it appears the pressure has been enough to turn the head of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

What is worth noting is that while the industry has been in firm support of Huawei in recent years, this staunch stance seems to be softening.

Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read recently discussed the Huawei situation during the telco’s earnings call, and while Vodafone had been warning of catastrophic consequences to prevent work with Huawei, the current rhetoric is no-where near as firm. The executive talked of removing certain firms “moderately” and investments into alternatives. It does appear Vodafone is preparing for the worst-case scenario.

While the rumours are nothing more than rumours, with the US undermining Huawei’s ability to operate as desired some uncomfortable questions will be asked. Top of the list is whether the vendor can maintain security and resiliency credentials for its products and components following such a disruption to its supply chain. This could drastically impact its position in the UK telecoms landscape.


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Should Huawei be allowed to operate in the UK?

Loading ... Loading ...

A look back at the biggest stories this week

Whether it’s important, depressing or just entertaining, the telecoms industry is always one which attracts attention.

Here are the stories we think are worth a second look at this week:


Facebook reignites the fires of its Workplace unit

Facebook has announced its challenge to the video-conferencing segment and a reignition of its venture into the world of collaboration and productivity.

Full story here


Trump needs fodder for the campaign trail, maybe Huawei fits the bill

A thriving economy and low levels of unemployment might have been the focal point of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, pre-pandemic, but fighting the ‘red under the bed’ might have to do now.

Full story here


Will remote working trends endure beyond lockdown?

It is most likely anyone reading this article is doing so from the comfort of their own home, but the question is whether this has become the new norm is a digitally defined economy?

Full story here


ZTE and China Unicom get started on 6G

Chinese kit vendor ZTE has decided now is a good time to announce it has signed a strategic cooperation agreement on 6G with operator China Unicom.

Full story here


ITU says lower prices don’t lead to higher internet penetration

The UN telecoms agency observes that, while global connectivity prices are going down, the relationship with penetration is not as inversely proportion as you might think.

Full story here


Jio carves out space for yet another US investor

It seems the US moneymen have a taste for Indian connectivity as General Atlantic becomes the fourth third-party firm to invest in the money-making machine which is Jio Platforms.

Full story here


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

Loading ... Loading ...

US ramps up the ‘5G race’ rhetoric

The US Attorney General has been banging on about 5G, hot on the heels of demands the country wins at 6G too.

Never before has telecoms been so politicised. US President Trump is increasingly relying on his demonization of Huawei for political capital and now Attorney General Bill Barr has decided to position the ‘race to 5G’ as a matter of critical national security importance.

Speaking at a Global CTO Roundtable on 5G Integrated and Open Networks Barr said “The United States and our partners are in an urgent race against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to develop and build 5G infrastructure around the world. Our national security and the flourishing of our liberal democratic values here and around the world depend on our winning it.

“Future 5G networks will be a critical piece of global infrastructure, the central nervous system of the global economy. Unfortunately, the PRC is well on its way to seizing a decisive 5G advantage. If the PRC wins the 5G race, the geopolitical, economic, and national security consequences will be staggering. The PRC knows this, which explains why it is using every lever of power to expand its 5G market share around the globe. The community of free and democratic nations must do the same.

“To compete and win against the PRC juggernaut, the United States and its partners must work closely with trusted vendors to pursue practical and realistic strategies that can turn the tide now. Although the ‘Open RAN’ approach is not a solution to our immediate problem, the concept of Integrated and Open Networks (ION), which was the topic of yesterday’s roundtable, holds promise and should be explored. We can win the race, but we must act now.”

This seems like another strong buying signal for Ericsson, Nokia and US vendors like Cisco to get some easy public money in the name of mucking in to the collective effort, especially with O-RAN apparently being downgraded as a panacea. The two Nordic kit vendors will need to tread carefully before getting too cozy with the US state, however, or they can kiss what business they do have in China goodbye.

Meanwhile the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions has issued a call to action to promote US 6G leadership. “While innovation can be triggered in reaction to current market needs, technology leadership at a national level requires an early commitment and development that addresses U.S. needs as well as a common vision and set of objectives,” said Susan Miller, President and CEO of ATIS, possibly in acknowledgement of the panic the US has got itself into over 5G and of recent developments in China.

Mobile standards are, of course, global, so talk of regional races is somewhat disingenuous. What Barr presumably means is that, since Chinese vendors are banned from US telecoms infrastructure, he’s worried US 5G is going to be rubbish compared to the Chinese equivalent. Any non-Chinese telecoms company with a few bright ideas would be well advised to stick close to the US government as the public money tap seems to be well and truly open.

Trump needs fodder for the campaign trail, maybe Huawei fits the bill

A thriving economy and low levels of unemployment might have been the focal point of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, pre-pandemic, but fighting the ‘red under the bed’ might have to do now.

In 2016, Donald Trump won the Presidential election for numerous reasons, but one very important element was his ability to mobilise the vote of elements of society who wouldn’t have had any interest in politics otherwise. One reason was because of who Trump was and is, a celebrity more than a statesman, but perhaps a more critical element was the message.

Trump ignored political correctness, seemingly appealing to racism and xenophobia as the Make America Great Again slogan was born. He proposed the deportation of all illegal immigrants, the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border and a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the US. The forgotten men and women of the US were the focal point of this campaign.

This campaign, focusing on a single message of foreign people are bad for patriotic US citizens, worked. If Trump is to repeat the success of his 2016 Presidential Election in November, there will have to be another message at the core of the campaign to rouse the masses and build a slogan on.

There has been a suspicion that the success of the economy and low levels of unemployment would have been this focal point. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy was on the rise. From Trump’s entry to the Oval office on 6 January 2017, to the final days before lockdown in February, the Dow Jones grew from 19,963 to 29,398, a 47% surge. Unemployment was down to 3.5%, slowly eroding through the three-year period.

The message could have been ‘look what four years of Trump has gotten you, wouldn’t you like four more?’. But then coronavirus hit, and the economy went down the toilet.

The Dow Jones will recover, as will unemployment, but the Trump campaign would be playing with fire by making this the central point of the campaign. Many believe Trump was too slow to act against the coronavirus after spending months claiming it was little more than the common flu. At its worst point, the Dow Jones fell to 18,591 while unemployment is currently as high as 14%, and likely to go higher.

Using the economy as a reason for re-elections is offering ammunition to the Democrat candidate, the opening round of a slug match where Trump can be undermined and embarrassed.

Without this weapon in his arsenal, Trump will have to find a new focal point to build a campaign around; China and Huawei could fit the bill.

Trump needs to redirect attention away from his failings as a leader during the pre-coronavirus weeks. People generally need an enemy when times are hard, and the invisible enemy of today will not do; you can’t get people angry about a virus, not in the way that the Trump campaign will want. If Trump can further vilify the Chinese, he can position himself as the hero, the man to champion US values, whatever they might be.

Huawei has been made the proxy of the Chinese Government in the eyes of the US. If the US is scared about the ‘red under the bed’, the idea of communism creeping into democratic societies secretly, the successful telecoms vendor can be made public enemy number one.

This is clearly not a new campaign of hate from the President, but it is one which had quietened off over the last few months. It is an on-going conflict point between the US and Chinese Governments, and fuel was thrown onto the embers last week.

In a new assault from the US Department of Commerce, further efforts were made to inhibit the ability of Huawei to source semiconductor components for smartphones and base stations. The US is perhaps hoping the globalised nature of the technology industry, which has allowed Huawei to thrive, can be weaponised against it as few (if any) companies could operate without a single trace of the US in its supply chain.

“We have survived and forged ahead despite all the odds,” Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping said at a virtual conference this week. “The US insists on persistently attacking Huawei, but what will that achieve for the world?”

Conflict with the Chinese might not sound good for economic reasons, but for political ones, it is fantastic. Trump needs an enemy so he can be the champion of for the forgotten men and women of the US.

While it is clear there are a lot of US politicians buying into the anti-China campaign of hate, we asked Telecoms.com readers how they feel about the on-going aggression towards Huawei:

Telecoms.com Poll: Do you feel the US Government is justified in its action against Huawei?
Yes, it is effectively a pawn for the Chinese Government 43%
Yes, but Government links are not there 1%
Maybe, but show us the evidence of foul play first 12%
No, Trump shouldn’t punish a company just because it is Chinese 22%
No, international competition should be left to sort itself out 22%

Huawei might have enjoyed a brief breather over the last few months, but the signs are there to suggest there might be greater conflict on the horizon. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence Mark Esper both drew battle lines.

“Let’s talk for a second about the other realm, cybersecurity,” Pompeo said during his speech. “Huawei and other state-back tech companies are trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”

“Under President Xi’s rule, the Chinese Communist Party is heading even faster and further in the wrong direction,” said Esper. “More internal repression, more predatory economic practices, more heavy handedness, and most concerning for me, a more aggressive military posture.”

Further sanctions and more aggressive policies against Huawei specifically, as well as other Chinese companies in the international markets, could be on the horizon. Huawei executives have certainly expressed concern, but there are numerous other companies who should also be sitting uncomfortably.

The US Senate recently passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act (S.945) which could result in numerous companies who do not pass strict criteria being delisted from US stock exchanges. China is of course a target with this legislation.

“The SEC works hard to protect American investors from being swindled by American companies,” said Senator John Kennedy, one of the politicians to introduce the original bill.

“It’s asinine that we’re giving Chinese companies the opportunity to exploit hardworking Americans – people who put their retirement and college savings in our exchanges – because we don’t insist on examining their books. There are plenty of markets all over the world open to cheaters, but America can’t afford to be one of them.”

This legislation would not impact Huawei, it is a private company after all, but it is further evidence of increasing aggression towards China, and suggestions there could be rising tensions.

And while Huawei might be attracting the most attention from US Senators right now, there are certainly more which could fall into the crosshairs. Tencent owns TikTok which has already come under criticism, Alibaba is hoping to expand its cloud computing venture into international markets, while the likes of OPPO and Xiaomi are proving to be quite successful in gaining interest as challenger smartphone brands. These are all companies which would perhaps fall foul of US opinion.

The first Trump campaign rallies will give more of an indication of what will be the focus of his scorn and hatred over the coming months, and where the pent-up frustrations of US citizens could be directed. We suspect Huawei could be in for a rough few months as Trump further vilifies the Chinese Government and looks for an opponent to bureaucratically challenge during the campaign.

Taking down Huawei could be the feather the Trump campaign is looking for in its quest for re-election to the White House.


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

Loading ... Loading ...

National Advertising Review Board finally tells AT&T to stop lying about 5G

‘5G Evolution’ or ‘5Ge’ has been a controversial campaign from AT&T because it is effectively lying to its customers, but now the telco has been told to stop the foolishness.

The telco has persisted with the branding exercise, despite widespread criticism from all corners of the industry, though the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) will hopefully put an end to the misleading statements. It is quite frankly absurd that the telco has been allowed to carry on making such deceptive claims for this long.

Like the National Advertising Division (NAD), the NARB has come to the conclusion that the overall messaging implies that 5G is here. Despite the assertions from AT&T, the inclusion of ‘evolution’ does not inform the customer of an on-going technological journey and some may believe the telco is delivering a service which it is not.

“The Panel agreed with NAD’s conclusion that the addition of ‘The First Step in 5G’ does not cure the concern that consumers could reasonably take away the message that beginning 5G technology is delivered,” the NARB said in a statement.

“The Panel noted that a reasonable consumer could conclude that the reference to ‘The First Step to 5G’ was the advertiser’s way of promoting a 5G network, while promising an even more robust 5G network at a later time, especially since the slogan is being used in conjunction with ‘5G Evolution’.”

Starting back in January 2019, AT&T unveiled a new logo in the corner of its customer’s devices; 5Ge. Some might have assumed they were getting 5G services, a very forgivable mistake, but the presence of a 5Ge symbol actually meant 4G LTE Advanced services had been activated.

This does mean improved download speeds, but it does not mean 5G. AT&T is little more a snakeskin oil salesman.

Amazingly, while most companies would have admitted the error of their ways and retreated cap in hand, AT&T persisted with the campaign, even insisted there was absolutely nothing wrong with misleading its customers. It shows a lack of respect for its customers and an executive team which has the same moral code as an unsupervised baby kicker in a nursery.

Although this is a self-regulated element of the industry, there have been two official bodies appointed; the NAD and the NARB. The NAD is the investigatory arm, while the NARB handles any further disputes which may emerge.

In this case, T-Mobile made a complaint to the NAD, which sided against AT&T, believing the ‘5Ge’ position to be misleading. AT&T appealed this decision that the two claims (‘5G Evolution’ and ‘5G Evolution, The First Step to 5G’) should be discontinued. In such disputes, the NARB steps in to be the final voice, and fortunately its voice today is very reasonable.

AT&T has said that while it disagrees with the opinion of the NARB, it will respect the decision and stop promoting ‘5Ge’ and all other associated messaging.

For those who take a more reasoned and rational view of the US telecoms industry, this is a decision which will bring some relief. AT&T was toying with its own credibility with this misleading campaign, and as a result, was undermining the fragile confidence which is currently placed in 5G.

5G is currently viewed as a premium service for two reasons; firstly, it is not ubiquitous, and secondly, 4G satisfies the download demands of the vast majority. If telcos are going to convince consumers to migrate to 5G services, most likely paying a premium as a result, they will need to be convinced it is actually worth the hassle and the expense.

The 5G proposition which is being delivered today over mmWave is falling short of expectations, though the low-band service offered by T-Mobile is also a bit of a damp squib. With actual 5G services disappointing customers, the last thing US telcos need to do is further compound the misery by selling 4G services under the guise of 5G. The trust will be further compromised, making it more difficult to generate momentum towards the new era of connectivity.

AT&T’s stubborn insistence to keep the ‘5Ge’ campaign alive was going to be little more than a net loss for itself and the industry, but hopefully the 16 months it was allowed to directly mislead customers has not done too much damage.


Telecoms.com Daily Poll:

Can the sharing economy (ride-sharing, short-stay accommodation etc.) survive COVID-19?

Loading ... Loading ...

Nokia claims latest 5G speed record

The latest company to claim the 5G speed record is Nokia, which chucked out 4.7 Gbps of supercharged data in a test environment.

800 MHz of millimetre wave spectrum were used, to generate the requisite fat pipe. The test was conducted on Nokia’s OTA network in Dallas, US. Apparently this is the gear US operators will be using when they get their 5G act together, but American punters would be well advised to manage their expectations about seeing anything like these speeds.

“This is an important and significant milestone in the development of 5G services in the U.S, particularly at a time when connectivity and capacity is so crucial,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “It demonstrates the confidence operators have in our global end-to-end portfolio and the progress we have made to deliver the best possible 5G experiences to customers. We already supply our mmWave radios to all of the major US carriers and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them moving forward.”

Not everyone is convinced, however. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed how false headlines about 5G can easily suck up all the debate, taking the focus away from the benefits of this exciting technology,” said Guillermo Pedraja, Head of Networks, 5G & IoT Consulting at NTT DATA, in an unsolicited email that linked to the Nokia announcement. “Scientific evidence, not baseless rumours, are the way forward to a better and more connected world.”

It should be noted that Samsung recently claimed to have hit 8.5 Gbps, but that was only by adding two streams together. So it seems Pedraja has a point about people taking liberties with the numbers, but having said that we’re not aware of any reason to question Nokia’s claims. At the end of the day, 5G speed records make for easy PR wins, but don’t count for much in the real world.