Huwaei has rarely been out of the news lately – from its involvement in the UK’s 5G infrastructure to Google restricting the Chinese tech firm’s access to its Android operating system.
But what exactly is the problem with Huawei?
Who are Huawei?
Huawei is a Chinese tech giant that is best known for its smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, but is also a global leader in telecommunications equipment, including broadband routers, dongles and other devices.
The Shenzhen-based company has recently overtaken Apple as the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer – only Samsung sells more handsets – and has a presence in more than 170 countries., employing more than 170,000 people.
What’s the problem with Huawei?
A tech giant with a global reach, questions have been raised about Huawei’s links to the Chinese government and what that administration could do with that tech – the big fear seemingly that Beijing could order the firm to modify devices to facilitate cyber attacks, eavesdrop on conversations or gain high-level access to sensitive networks.
What countries have taken action against Huwaei?
It seems the fear is so great that a number of countries have actually placed restrictions on the tech giant:
- New Zealand has barred Huawei from supplying a local mobile network with 5G equipment
- USA has blocked Huawei’s involvement in their next-generation mobile networks
- Australia has blocked Huawei’s involvement in their next-generation mobile networks
- Canada is carrying out a security review of Huawei’s products
- UK service provider BT is removing Huawei equipment from the core of its 5G network, as well as from infrastructure used by emergency services.
The EU’s technology commissioner Andrus Ansip has said that countries “have to be worried” about Chinese manufacturers, and after taking the stance that it opposes the banning of suppliers from its 5G network, Germany is now reconsidering this position.
Although Huawei continues to protest its independence, there is a lingering fear that the Chinese government could interfere in its operations at any point, and there are even questions about whether China would even allow a technology firm that has been deeply embedded in rival nations’ infrastructure to remain independent.
What does Google’s decision mean for Huawei handset owners?
Google restricting access to its Android operating system is not only a blow to Huawei, but to owners of its handsets across the globe.
If you own a Huawei handset, you’ll still be able to install security fixes, as well as update Google Play services, but when Google launches the next version of Android later this year, there’s a good chance it won’t be available to you and your device may not be able to access Google-owned apps such as YouTube and Maps.