February 14, 2020

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Washington urged to clarify anti-Huawei strategy

Posted Feb 14 2020 at 4:36 p.m.

Ban Huawei in the United States, block it elsewhere, and find alternatives. To defend its strategic interests, Washington defined in a few words the way to go.
to get rid of the Chinese group

    in 5G, accused of spying for Beijing. However, the road to implementing his doctrine is more difficult.

At the beginning of February, the Minister of Justice William Barr – former manager of the telecom operator Verizon- spoke
a daring approach

   : take, “directly” or “through a consortium of private American and allied companies”, control of the Finnish Nokia and / or the Swedish Ericsson.

Historically strong

"The United States historically had companies in the telecom equipment sector, but through mergers and acquisitions, they became part of Nokia and Ericsson in the United States," said Doug Brake, specialist in these questions within ITIF, a Washington think tank.

Nokia has become strong in the United States on the rubble of the American Lucent. And Ericsson recovered the assets of the Canadian Nortel, out of the game after the 2008 crisis.

More software

At the White House, Donald Trump's economic advisor, however, has another strategy to bypass Huawei: put more software (by adopting common and open standards) and thus virtualize the network more, to less depend on equipment in the future 5G network. .

“It would be a real change in the way the telecom infrastructure is built, more agile. This is the model
that the Japanese Rakuten is testing

   "Decrypts Doug Brake. On the sites from which the network is deployed, there will be no IT cabinets or routers: everything will be virtualized in data centers, except the antenna.

For the past two years, an alliance called ORAN has been encouraging companies to switch to cloud-based virtual systems powered by multi-vendor networks and open interfaces. Nokia is involved and Ericsson has just joined it in early February.

"American" companies

“The general idea is to entrust the entire architecture and 5G infrastructure of the United States to American companies, mainly. It could also include Nokia and Ericsson as they have a strong presence "in the United States," Larry Kudlow told The Wall Street Journal.

Dell, Microsoft or AT&T would actively participate in the project. Oracle may also be interested, according to Axios, while Facebook is working on an initiative (Telecom Infra Project).

Friday in Munich (Germany), Robert Blair, appointed special representative of the White House on telecom issues in December, recalled that a partnership was "very different from buying shares with taxpayers' money".

"Do both"

"There is some debate on which direction to take but, ultimately, you can do both: protect the alternatives to Huawei which are Nokia and Ericsson and develop something else that will take more time," said James Lewis, director of the Technology program. and public policies within the CSIS.

A bipartisan bill in the Senate proposed in January to draw $ 750 million from the funds that the FCC (the regulator) will collect during the auction of frequencies to finance a ramp-up of allied businesses. Another $ 500 million fund would help foreign operators do without Huawei
by funding equipment

    other manufacturers.

“Eyes and ears” of the administration

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is also involved in the file. In mid-January, he went to meet the bosses of Silicon Valley, guided by his undersecretary (and founder of DocuSign) Keith Krach. The latter asked the
Tech CEO

    to be the “eyes and ears” of the administration on intellectual property issues in China.

And the State Department has just appointed an academic, Mung Chiang, to advise on technology issues. "He specializes in 5G, reads and writes Chinese, was an entrepreneur three times and won the Waterman Award," said Keith Krach.

To note

Brooklyn federal prosecutor charged Huawei on Thursday with stealing trade secrets and circumventing sanctions against North Korea.