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Canada's Huawei ban paves way for diverse supply chains

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As Canada finally followed its Five Eyes allies in banning Huawei and ZTE equipment, diverse supply chains become essential to ensure telcos are not reliant on a small handful of operators.

That is the view of Keith Johnson, president of Parallel Wireless who believes that restrictions on Huawei or any vendor will have “little real-world impact” unless the industry spurs innovation in hardware and software.

“If governments really want operators to be less reliant on a small pool of vendors with their closed products, they too need to think beyond bans and instead support innovation,” he says.

“Major operators across the globe, including Vodafone and Dish are looking to introduce OpenRAN and cloud-native networks to diversify their supply chains and introduce new innovation.

“It will help extend high-performance connectivity to those that need it.”

The move to ban the Chinese vendor was confirmed on Thursday by minister for Canadian Public Safety Marco Mendicino.

Francois-Phillipe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry backed the move to ban the Chinese firms from Canada’s 5G future, saying the decision was made after a “thorough review” in consultation with its closest allies.

This marks a stark contrast from a few short years ago when Huawei was on track to dominate the 5G infrastructure market – although recent developments have crippled the company.

In 2019, the company was added to the US Entity List, restricting its access to items produced domestically and abroad and making it difficult for the company to import and export key equipment needed for 5G infrastructure.

That resulted in the Chinese vendor being omitted from several countries where it previously operated including the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US.

This year, Huawei’s revenues fell 28.5% in a year as the US sanctions continued to hamper the company.

ZTE, meanwhile, appointed a new management team after the US discovered it was smuggling banned kit to Iran.

It has since pivoted its business operations to focus on new revenue streams.

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