No decision yet on NBN ban: Huawei

No decision yet on NBN ban: Huawei

Summary: Huawei has said the government has indicated that a review on its ban from tendering for the NBN is still underway, despite reports that the ban would remain in place.


Chinese technology giant Huawei remains hopeful of an overturn of the ban on its tendering for work on Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN), despite comments from Attorney-General George Brandis indicating that the ban would remain in place.

In March 2012, it was revealed that the former Labor government banned Huawei from tendering for any contracts with NBN Co, acting on the advice of security agencies over concerns about the company's links to the Chinese government.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given indications over the last year that the Coalition would reassess the ban, with a view to potentially open up the tenders to the company, but Brandis told The Australian Financial Review today that the government has not yet decided whether to lift the ban.

"The decision of the previous government not to permit Huawei to tender for the NBN was made on advice from the national security agencies," Brandis said.

"Since the election, the new government has had further briefings from the national security agencies. No decision has been made by the new government to change the existing policy."

Reports that the Coalition had decided to keep the ban appear to have been made in haste, according to Huawei. A company spokesperson told ZDNet that the decision would be part of the NBN 60-day strategic review.

"Huawei understands no decisions have been made by the government regarding the NBN, pending outcomes of the strategic review," the spokesperson said.

The Attorney-General's Department had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Brandis has already indicated that the area of national security will be a high priority for his portfolio, despite going to the election without any specific policies regarding national security issues such as data retention.

In the peak of the horrific bushfire incidents engulfing New South Wales two weeks ago, Brandis quietly issued a press release announcing that the former director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Paul O'Sullivan, would become Brandis' chief of staff in November.

"The appointment will underline the strong national security focus, which I intend to bring to the attorney-general's portfolio," Brandis said at the time.

It comes as Huawei's greatest rival in the NBN arena, Alcatel-Lucent, is making a strong play for much more work on the NBN, should the focus of the rollout shift from fibre to the premises to fibre to the node (FttN). The company has been working with Telstra to trial FttN technology, and recently showcased the technology at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam.

Topics: NBN, Security, Australia, Huawei


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • The Huawei ban is largely irrelevant now

    Anybody who follows tech news shouldn't have been surprised with Snowden's NSA revelations. Due diligence is still required of course, but it's highly likely the NSA has engaged in the very conduct that Huawei is being accused of, so I see at six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    Huawei has done well internationally because their kit is extremely competitively priced. As nothing against them has been proven (to my knowledge anyway) and a one of the stated goals for the new, shittier NBN is to have it done cheaper, I don't see why that ban wouldn't be rescinded.
  • Whereas...

    Alcatel likely has NSA backdoors. Or maybe Huawei are on the outer because they wouldn't put NSA backdoors in?

    @Realism: The big cost with the NBN is going to be fibre laying, not fibre cost. Hard to move that by cost cutting, I think
    • True

      My (admittedly limited) understanding of what they would actually supply should they win any tenders would be things like the equipment in fixed wireless locations and other backhaul equipment, which would reduce some of the equipment cost, but, as you rightly point out, it's not where the bulk of the costs comes from anyway.

      Looks like the ban is staying anyway now, it seems.
    • "Alcatel likely has NSA backdoors. Or maybe Huawei are on the outer because they wouldn't put NSA backdoors in?"

      Sounds plausible and wouldn't surprise me given what we now know but if you said this a year ago you would have been regarded as a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theory nutjob. How times have changed :-)
      Hubert Cumberdale
  • NBN and China business

    The propaganda is the key of communist's strategy, the most communist succeeded since the October 1917 revolution at Russia that came from the propaganda, all lie about the class warfare to excite people hate each other then government bases on the people divided to apply the socialism, it means the dictatorial regime.
    After Soviet Union and the Eastern Europe communist bloc collapsed, the world just remain 5 ruthless regimes in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba and the rebel organizations named Maoist at India, Philippine, Nepal, south America. China to be considered as the leftover communist leader, they have used the free market of western country, technology ( stolen) actually US to survive the fallen Karl Marx's theory. Therefore, China has the differently economic management, the most company being handled by government, actually the communication and media, those have the important role for China policy.
    The western country is like Australia has to take the extreme caution while dealing to the China communication company as Huawei. This company being controlled by government, they have plenty money to do something for China interest, not exclusive the spy and Virus invade to the Australia using internet. On the other hand, China couldn't be trusted, because the dictatorial regime is quite different the democratic government.
    Hoa Minh Truong. A communist expert.
    ( author of 3 books: the dark journey, good evening Vietnam & from laborer to author)
    hoa minh truong