Jan 31, 2019
Huawei to announce rural Canadian trial run amid extradition feud
What lies ahead for Canada as the Huawei saga continues
Huawei Technologies Co. is pressing ahead with business in Canada, and will conduct a trial run of its rural broadband technology in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia.
Huawei and ABC Communications, a small B.C. telecom provider, will announce the project Friday, using what the Chinese telecom giant calls its next-generation “Massive MIMO” rural broadband service, according to a draft of the announcement obtained by Bloomberg. The project is aimed at boosting Internet speeds in Lac La Hache, about 305 kilometers (190 miles) northeast of Vancouver, as a trial run for rural communities across the country.
“Huawei is proud to provide a solution to this unique Canadian challenge,” Eric Li, president of the company’s Canadian unit, said in the announcement. Bob Allen, founder and chief executive officer of ABC Communications, said he is “thrilled to showcase” Huawei’s rural broadband equipment, according to the announcement.
The move comes with Huawei at the center of a diplomatic firestorm. Canada arrested the company’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, in Vancouver on Dec. 1 on a U.S. extradition request, triggering an escalating feud. China has since detained two Canadians and sentenced a third to death, calling for Meng’s release. Canada is also weighing whether to ban Huawei from its next-generation wireless network, as some of its intelligence allies have.
The rural focus of the announcement, which included no financial details, is also symbolic. Canada is also considering how to roll out its 5G system, including on what “spectrum,” or airwaves that carry wireless signals. The government is considering taking back spectrum initially tapped for rural Internet service to instead be used for 5G.