The Australian government has banned Huawei and ZTE from providing 5G equipment to the country’s telecommunications providers, according to a tweet from Huawei Australia.
The Australian government today issued a rather vague, bureaucratic statement, saying it had undertaken an extensive review of the national security risks to 5G networks. It noted that 5G requires a change in the way telecommunication networks operate compared to previous mobile generations.
Its reasoning is that the line between the core network where “more sensitive functions occur” and the edge network is becoming blurred.
“Where previous mobile networks featured clear functional divisions between the core and the edge, 5G is designed so that sensitive functions currently performed in the physically and logically separated core will gradually move closer to the edge of the network,” stated the government. “This shift introduces new challenges for carriers trying to maintain their customers’ security.”
The government argues that this new architecture provides a way to circumvent traditional security controls by exploiting equipment in the edge of the network.
Last year, Australia introduced the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms (TSSR), which go into effect on September 18. And as part of that, the government is saying today that it prohibits carriers from using equipment from vendors “who are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law.”
While the government’s statement doesn’t explicitly name Huawei or ZTE, Huawei Australia published this tweet:
The government’s statement said it has been working closely with telecommunications operators to ensure that they understand their new obligations and are ready to comply when the legislation commences on September 18.
Today’s news is the latest blow to Huawei and ZTE. The companies have suffered in 2018 from attacks by the U.S. government, which most recently forbade government agencies and contractors from buying their equipment. That ban was included as part of the Defense Authorization Act.
ZTE has been the source of headlines this year since the Commerce Department forbade U.S. companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years. That ban has since been lifted, but the vendor is struggling to recover.
Today’s announcement from Australia indicates that country is aligning with the U.S. in terms of limiting its telecommunications networks from any security exposure that could come from Huawei and ZTE.
Being restricted in the U.S. and Australian markets will take a toll on the Chinese vendors’ business as 5G ramps.