What you need to know
- During a visit to Portugal, a diplomat working on information policy urged a European Huawei ban.
- Robert Strayer was appointed by Trump but has a long career in telecom law.
- Strayer has suggested the Chinese government could force Huawei to insert backdoors.
A diplomat with President Trump's State Department is urging European nations to ban Huawei equipment as they build out 5G networks. Reuters quotes Robert Strayer saying that "there is no way to fully mitigate any type of risk except the use of trusted vendors from democratic countries." Strayer is deputy assistant secretary for cyber, international communications and information policy at the U.S. State Department, appointed by the president in 2017. According to his official biography, he hasbeen working in telecommunications law for 17 years. He has recently focused on the question of China's Communist Party's control over Huawei, suggesting on Twitter that China could force Huawei to build backdoors into its equipment.
Instead of using Huawei equipment, Strayer suggests looking at alternative companies at the forefront of network technology, especially Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. He also claims that American companies like Dell, Cisco, Juniper, and VMWare are all "want to play a future role" in 5G networking.
"The good news is Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung all provide 5G technology that is on par with the one Huawei is providing today. They are leading the world in the type of technology they have." — Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary at U.S. State Dept.
Strayer says that preferred network vendors will use an open architecture, but provides no specifics. Huawei's $15 billion expenditure on R&D puts it in the top 5 tech companies for research, on par with Samsung. While the government claims that it has proof of Huawei building backdoors into its equipment, Huawei denies the claim, and the U.S. has yet to make public any specific evidence.