Huawei's transparency efforts ring hollow

editor's corner

Chinese vendor Huawei faces an uphill battle in its fight with the U.S. government over its desire to participate in the construction of a nationwide interoperable public-safety LTE network.

Worried about unspecified national security concerns, the Commerce Department last week stated Huawei would be kept out of the network. Now, Huawei is pushing the U.S. government to specifically detail its concerns. The Commerce Department refuses to do so, with an unnamed official telling IDC News that "the specific concerns won't be elaborated on, because we don't conduct national security analyses in public."

Huawei has spent much time, energy and money to allay security concerns that stem from belief that it has ties to the Chinese government and military. Huawei continues to refute those ties. In the past year it added measures that included establishing a national security committee, using an accredited independent test lab to check Huawei's proprietary software and ensuring trusted delivery of all products by using U.S. citizens to deliver product in the U.S. The manufacturer has also been working with U.S. law firms to help its cause.

Last year, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) decided to block both Huawei and ZTE from getting its multi-billion-dollar network modernization project because of mounting national security concerns from lawmakers and others within the government about the Chinese vendors. They are concerned about Huawei's chips, routers and other equipment that could be bugged to give China's government access to sensitive information.

Huawei has been battling these issues for years now. And the vendor has been willing to make some dramatic concessions to gain new business and provide more transparency into its private business structure. (Many of you will argue it doesn't). But getting into sensitive networks like public safety is a stretch. There is just too much political opposition.

The fact the Commerce Department is declining to give Huawei any specific reasons why it will be banned from public-safety networks points to this political hot potato. I have a feeling the U.S. government will never detail its exact concerns as it continues to fight against Huawei's quest to gain a bigger footprint in the U.S.--Lynnette