WIND Mobile deal in limbo over national security concerns with Huawei equipment

Ian Hardy

June 14, 2013 12:04pm

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In January Tony Lacavera, WIND Mobile’s Chairman and CEO, stated that he would be stepping down and “enter into an agreement to transfer” his shares (AAL Corporation) of the company to Orascom Telecom, which is owned by Netherland-based VimpelComm, which would see them take controlling command of the wireless carrier. Half a year later, Lacavera is still spearheading the company and finding a new wave foreign issues that might delay his exit.

According to the Globe and Mail, the Canadian government is having “national security concerns” of how WIND Mobile is so tightly connected to Huawei. This is not the first time China-based Huawei has faced this issue. The United States government believes the Chinese government can tap into various telecom systems and grab sensitive data via their equipment. As for Canada, Huawei helped build-out WIND’s core network, which now powers their 600,000 wireless subscribers.

Huawei has been operating in Canada since 2008, employs over 400 people, and have also worked in some capacity with Bell, TELUS and SaskTel. On the security concerns, WIND said they have a “ring fence” with levels of firewalls and equipment from over 12 suppliers that protects its network. WIND noted that “we work co-operatively and proactively with CSIS and other law-enforcement agencies (federally and provincially) on both security and emergency/9-11 matters… Although we regularly work alongside these agencies on security matters, we must emphasize that we have never had any security issues with our network.”

A decision on the WIND/VimpelCom acquisition is expected to be completed before July 4th.

Source: Globe

  • jackjiarocks

    OH! Really, but when the Americans spy us its not going to be an issue at all.. Right?

    • relevant84

      The American government is spying on its own people for what it calls security reasons. What reason would a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer need to spy on Canadians and Americans for? So…not really an accurate comparison there.

    • EvanKrosney

      Who’s to say that these supposed security threats are even true? IMO, as long as it’s still only speculation, it’s as good as being false.

  • thefoolishone

    OMG firewalls from 12 suppliers? They are either the most secure company on the planet, or they have bozo’s working for them. I am a senior network engineer for a large enterprise, and that would be unrealistic to support. Unless they’re twisting words and “supplier” is different from “firewall vendor”. :)

    • skullan

      That’s not what they said. You’re twisting their words, I’m not going to clarify what was written, but you can go back and take a look.

  • Ken K.

    The difference would be being spied by a government which allows freedom of speech that gives us the Kardashians, and a government which ran over its own citizens with tanks.

    • meibrah

      You know the saying……”Better the devil you know, then the devil you don’t know”.

  • Tom Morris

    Enough of the American Paranoia . Everyone spies on everyone . China just happens to be better at it .

    • skullan

      It’s not paranoia if it is true.

    • Maxwell M

      It’s not so much the paranoia as it is the lulz @ the American duplicity on the matter.

    • vistarox

      It’s not paranoia. Defected Chinese spies have told the media that China has 1000+ agents within Canada, more than any other nation. CSIS’ actions seem to verify their complaints. The Chinese aren’t to be trusted.

  • hoo dat

    Huawei was recently investigated by Homeland Security, NSA and the CIA and no evidence of espionage was found. In a recent congressional hearing the lack of evidence was admitted to and the belief that Huawei was “spying” was based on conjecture rather than fact. Other countries have investigated Huawei and come to the conclusion that no evidence could be found to support banning Huawei from operating in their individual countries. It’s interesting to note that the only country to ban Huawei from setting up networks and/or preventing them from bidding on governmental contracts outside of the US is Australia who based their conclusions on reports from the US and didn’t bother investigating on their own accord.

  • Rhett H

    I for a matter of fact enjoy espionage, helps me get closer to Carmen Sandiego.

    • Walter

      For the record Carmen was a thief not a spy.

    • Rhett H

      Wouldn’t espionage help me catch her regardless?

    • Dana Mahar

      my day is made

    • OgtheDim

      You still have a machine running Windows 3.1 to play that game on?

  • MXH070

    China hacks into corporate networks and steal info be it product design or business plans. China doesn’t have the ability to create only flood the market with cheap knock offs from designs they steal. Huawei is a government owned and since it runs android we all know ALL data on android phone Google mines sells and saves it ie contacts/ emails/ photos/ text messages/videos etc so that info could be mined by the Chinese government as well.

    Poor Nortel didn’t even know that China had placed Trojans in there mainframe and was stealing all product designs emails. Wind doesn’t have a chance to keep its network safe.

    • ToiletSiphon

      THAT’S the real issue here. They are not invading our privacy like the NSA does, they are stealing our corporate and industrial secrets. This ends up costing us billions each year in stolen R&D and lost jobs.

      You have to remember that China is still kinda communist and that every corporation there is in big part property or controlled by their government and hence, can’t be trusted with sensitive information.

  • YJK

    Spying on citizens is a monopoly of US government (PRISM). Will will not allow any competition!

  • meibrah

    Chinese are very efficient. Why waste time/money hacking all these other systems/nations individually?!??! All they have to do is hack US/NSA/CIA systems and they will get all the info they need about everybody! Which they are alleged to be doing according to US security source :).

  • Justin

    There is no evidence to prove that China had tapped our phone but we already have HARD EVIDENCE, the PRISM, had tapped our phone, and it is not a concern?? Hmmm… Interesting! Too bad Canadians are too weak to have our own towers….Then, all problems about spies, privacy, securities concerns just “poof” Gone for good!

    • ToiletSiphon

      The difference is that the NSA doesn’t steal corporate and industrial secrets to then manufacture cheap knockoffs of everything we invent, which costs us billions each year in lost jobs and opportunities.

  • Steve

    What makes me laugh the hardest is that Huawei also built BELL AND TELUS network asbell. Yet there is no mention of that anywhere. Wouldn’t that be more a s security riskbof spying on 7 millons subs vs 600 thousand subs at WIND???

  • PT

    Huawei runs Bell, TELUS and SaskTel network with NO security concerns to CSIS but this is a HUGE concern with WIND? Ask a kid if that makes sense? Are we talking about double standard here or what?

    • Big Ang

      No, no, it’s the Globe and Mail (which is owned by Bell) that has a problem with it.

    • vistarox

      No. CSIS is very concerned about Huawei equipment being used on our major carriers.

    • Big Ang

      That’s funny, since it seems the article focuses completely on Wind’s network instead of all the major carriers. I’m sure it has NOTHING to do with the fact that BELL OWNS THE GLOBE AND MAIL, nope, nothing at all….

  • kroms

    Of course , ROGERS .BELL.TELUS would love nothing MORE then if the GOV of Canada would stop Wind from buying up Mobi so that they could CONTINUE to give it to Canadians right up the A!!. Like they have been since FOREVER.