Amerilink Telecom added another former U.S. government official to its board of directors to bolster its credentials as part of an effort by the consultancy to help Huawei crack the U.S. market amid security concerns about the Chinese vendor.
The telecom consulting firm, which is based in Sprint Nextel's (NYSE:S) hometown of Overland Park, Kan.--and counts former Sprint executive Kevin Packingham as its CEO--added Gordon England to its board. England served as deputy secretary of defense and homeland security under former President George W. Bush. He was working in government when the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. forced Huawei to drop a bid for 3Com in 2008.
Amerilink has been lobbying the government on Huawei's behalf to overcome security concerns about the company. Those issues flared up again this week after a group of lawmakers sent a letter to the FCC asking the commission to explain potential risks posed by the deployment of Huawei and ZTE's equipment by U.S. carriers. The lawmakers said Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE are in active discussions with Sprint and Cricket provider Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP) for equipment contracts. Sprint is assessing final bids for a large network modernization project, and Huawei is believed to be one of the bidders.
In an interview with the Financial Times, England said he was "very impressed" with Amerilink's ability to offer independent security verification of network equipment before it is integrated into U.S. networks. However, he said he could not guarantee that Amerilink could make sure Huawei's technology is secure.
Amerilink's board is led by William Owens, who is a former vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and former CEO of Nortel. Former Rep. Richard Gephardt and former World Bank President James Wolfensohn are on its board.
Huawei and ZTE have said that they are not linked to the Chinese military, as U.S. lawmakers have alleged. Huawei is currently working with Cox Communications on the company's 3G CDMA network, and also is a supplier for Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network. In September, Huawei unveiled a three-pronged security plan designed to alleviate concerns from operators.
- see this FT article
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