Telus EVP tells 30,000 staff: ‘We need Huawei for 5G’

21 January 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Canada’s Telus is breaking ranks with most Western operators by speaking out in favour of working with Chinese vendor Huawei.

In a staff memo leaked to the Toronto Globe and Mail the company has defended its decision to continue using Huawei’s products.

Other operators around the world have kept their heads well down over the past few weeks since Canadian authorities arrested Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US. Before the arrest on 1 December Bell Canada, BT, Vodafone and others supported Huawei but have now gone quiet.

According to the Globe and Mail, the memo was sent by Eros Spadotto, executive vice-president of technology strategy. He wrote, according to the report: “Clearly, Huawei remains a viable and reliable participant in the Canadian telecommunications space, bolstered by globally leading innovation, comprehensive security measures, and new software upgrades.”

Telus is concerned that much of its existing 5G systems would have to be replaced if Canada bans it from using Huawei as a supplier.

He addressed security concerns in the note, but says Telus has worked closely with the Canadian government to address them and continues to do so. Capacity understands all three Canadian operators – Bell Canada and Rogers as well as Telus – work together to analyse Huawei hardware and software.

The UK has a similar operation, staffed by security experts but funded via Huawei.

The memo went to 30,000 Telus employees. He thanked them for their “support and assistance with regards to the positive, transparent and innovative-centric partnership we have enjoyed with Huawei”, says the report.

Telus communications VP Jill Schnarr confirmed the existence of the memo to the Globe and Mail, adding that the company has “an open and transparent culture”. She told the paper: “We make sure that team members have a chance to engage with senior executives in an honest and transparent dialogue.”

Meng, who denies US allegations of charges in connection with alleged shipments to Iran and Syria, is on bail in Vancouver and is due back in court in February.