Japan bans Huawei and ZTE networking hardware

If 5G equipment bans from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand weren’t enough this year, Huawei will end 2018 on an even worse note: Kyodo News reports that Japan’s government has made a decision to block the Chinese company and its smaller rival ZTE from network hardware procurement. Not inadvertently, Canadian authorities are publicly considering a similar ban after last week’s arrest of Huawei’s CFO.

Japan’s decision comes less than a month after the United States allegedly lobbied numerous overseas allies to block Chinese cellular hardware from their wireless networks, in part because of concerns over monitoring of U.S. military base communications.

Kyodo reports that the Japanese government complied, and is harmonising with top cellular providers to remove Huawei and ZTE hardware from their networks. Three carriers have decided to discontinue using Chinese 4G equipment and not introduce new 5G hardware into their networks.

“It’s extremely vital not to procure equipment that embeds malicious functions containing information theft and destruction,” said Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, noting that the country is now reviewing what to do with already purchased Chinese hardware. Top carrier Softbank has indicated that it will substitute Chinese 4G cellular products with U.S. and European alternatives, while rivals NTT Docomo, KDDI, and Rakuten will avoid using Huawei and ZTE networking hardware in their 5G infrastructures.

Remarkably, none of the Japanese carriers will stop selling consumer devices such as phones and tablets from Huawei or ZTE, as they are not thought to impact core network security. That’s improbable to change in the near future, giving users the ability to continue purchasing comparatively inexpensive Chinese products — although with potential security risks.