Saskatchewan-based SaskTel has received a go-ahead from the province to acquire more Huawei network equipment to expand its 4G network.
According to a report from the Regina Leader-Post, Saskatchewan provincial minister Don Morgan, who is responsible for SaskTel, confirmed that the government authorized the move.
“We’re following the lead of Bell and Telus and we’re using the Huawei equipment in the towers, and the product is excellent. It works really well,” Morgan told the Leader-Post.
SaskTel was waiting for the federal government to decide on the use of Huawei equipment. The Chinese telecommunications company has been embroiled in controversy around its network equipment because of connections to the Chinese government. Under Chinese law, Chinese corporations are obliged to cooperate with the government.
Further, the U.S. has urged allies to ban Huawei equipment from 5G, the next generation of network infrastructure, for security reasons.
However, SaskTel planned to build some 100 towers across the province to expand its 4G network. The carrier already installed roughly $200 million CAD worth of Huawei equipment in its network, according to the Leader-Post. SaskTel uses the equipment in non-core infrastructure.
Unfortunately, the wait for a federal decision lead to delays in SaskTel’s plans. The company has since used up the remaining inventory of Huawei equipment it had. As part of the 100 tower plan, SaskTel hoped to build 40 to 45 towers by the end of March. Instead, it will only have 15.
The government authorization will allow SaskTel to resupply on Huawei equipment to continue building towers for the project. However, SaskTel will not use the equipment for the upcoming 5G rollout.
Additionally, the federal government has yet to release a decision on Huawei. Morgan told the Leader-Post that a decision forcing SaskTel to remove existing Huawei equipment would be a “worst-case scenario.”
Further, the SaskTel decision lines up with other decisions regarding Huawei. The U.K., for example, said it would use Huawei equipment in non-core infrastructure.
Source: Regina Leader-Post