June 16, 2019
Cybersecurity

PH telecommunications industry to collapse if Huawei equipment removed — DICT says

“IT is already too late!”

Being referred to by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) in the statement above concerns Huawei Technology equipment being used by Philippine telecommunications networks.

That’s mainly PLDT (and its Smart Communications outfit) and Globe Telecom, dubbed the country’s telecommunications “duopoly.”

It’s a statement that DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. made when he was interviewed morning of Saturday (March 2) on Radio DZBB concerning the warning of the United States government on using Huawei’s 5G equipment in the Philippines.

Acting Secretary Eliseo M Rio Jr.

DICT Acting Secretary Eliseo M. Rio, Jr. gestures as he makes a point. (SDN file photo)

(Huawei is one of the world’s leading technology companies in the race to the roll out of the 5G network.)

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in the country when he issued the warming on Friday (March 1) as reported by Rappler.

Disclosure: the US and China have an ongoing trade war that has yet to be resolved.

Rio said Huawei is providing telecommunications equipment to many countries across the globe.

As the much-touted 5G network starts to be implemented in some countries, including the Philippines, it was reported that PLDT and Globe are tapping the Chinese company for the roll out of their respective 5G networks.

On Rappler, here’s what Pompeo said during his press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin, Jr.:

“We believe that competition, whether it’s in 5G or some other technology, ought to be open, free, transparent, and we worry that Huawei is not that,” he said.

“Our task has been to share with the world the risks associated with that technology, the risks to the Filipino people, the risk to Philippine security,” Pompeo added.

What the DICT chief said on radio

“Well, that is actually the official line of the United States government. It is trying to convince its allies the Philippines included on the dangers that they perceived Huawei (may have) on national security,” Rio said.

But he assured, on the other hand, that these concerns on Huawei are being taken seriously by the DICT.

He hastened to emphasize though that “the fact in our country right now 90 percent of the systems of Globe and Smart” are already using Huawei equipment.

Huawei at MWC 2019 b

Huawei exhibit booth at Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Image source: courtesy of Huawei website.)

Of course, he pointed out, the new entrant (Mislatel) will also be using equipment from the same Chinese company.

The Mislatel Consortium is comprised of Davao City businessman Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corporation and Chelsea Logistics and Holdings Corp., China Telecom, and Mindanao Islamic Telephone Co., Inc. It won the bidding for the country’s third major telecommunications player, or new major player (NMP).

Rio said that if what the US wants is for the Philippines to not have Huawei equipment in the telecommunications industry, “it is already too late.”

“Globe, for example, way back in 2012 overhauled, completely overhauled their network nationwide and Huawei won the bid. So, it was Huawei that overhauled (Globe’s network). But, of course, the one operating today is no longer Huawei, they have no Chinese; Globe is operating this but the equipment is Huawei,” the DICT chief explained.

He added that Huawei has an office in the Philippines.

If what the US wants, he said, is to have “no Huawei equipment in our telecommunications network, it is too late already. We have almost 90 percent. We remove that, we will have no telecommunications network in the country.”

He underscored that there will be no telecommunications industry for Filipinos. “It will collapse, we will go back to writing (for our communications)” as he agreed with the host of the radio program.

The DICT acting secretary reiterated that the government is giving these concerns about Huawei a serious consideration.

He said this is because “the responsibility for our national security is ours, the government itself.”

Rio assured, though, that any equipment and from whose manufacturer will be monitored to ensure there would be no threats to national security coming from telecommunications network. Whatever equipment the networks are using will be monitored, he said.

Huawei Guo Ping at MWC 2019

Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping speaks at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. He called for global third party assurance to cybersecurity. (Image source: courtesy of Huawei website.) 

He said the Philippines now have a National Cybersecurity Intelligent Platform now being developed and soon to be implemented this month in partnership with Verint, an Israeli cybersecurity company,  and its Filipino partner, which will monitor and find out if there are unauthorized security information coming in and out of the country.

He also noted that Huawei equipment is being used in many countries, except in the US, and Australia.

Even the United Kingdom is using equipment from the company, he added, and “they said they have not encountered any issues where Huawei is being used to spy on the UK government. This is UK already.”

Even if the US is saying an equipment is unsafe or safe, “We should really be the one to determine that, our country. UK says ‘go ahead use Huawei products.’ That is UK already saying.”

While Globe and Smart have their own security auditing group, Rio said that Mislatel will be connected directly with the government’s cybersecurity platform, adding Mislatel will be the first private company to be linked.

Initially, he said only 10 government agencies are being covered by the platform because of budget constraints, but the plan is to have more state agencies.

Read also: PH national cybersecurity defense umbrella unfurls February, fully operational in Nov. 2019

They are the Office of the President (OP), DICT, Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of the Budget and Management (DBM), Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), National Security Council (NSC), and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

He said the cybersecurity platform will also have an access with the cybersecurity auditing of Globe and Smart.

“Cyberspace must be safe for our citizens, for our economy, and four our national security. And the one with the capability is the government with the cooperation of our national security advisers,” said Rio.

SDN — Science and Digital News reached to a Smart official for comment, but there was no reply as of posting time of this article. Effort to contact Globe was not successful either. (EKU)

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