ZTE signs agreement with university to develop 5G in Colombia

It's making 'technical preparations' for the deployment of 5G in Colombia.

ZTE has partnered up with the Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas (UDFJC), Colombia to support the development of 5G initiatives in the country.

The 5-year partnership will involve the Chinese telecom equipment maker and UDFJC "training 5G talents together", in addition to making "technical preparations" so that Colombia will eventually be ready to deploy 5G networks.

ZTE currently has over 800 employees in Colombia, with the company saying it hopes the partnership will bolster its presence in the Colombian telco market.

"ZTE is intensifying its investment in the Colombian market. We will apply our rich experience of building innovation centres with other universities to Colombia to set up the talent training bases and technology innovation centers," said Wang Haifeng, vice president of ZTE. 

See also: Real world 5G not ready for primetime in 2019

"We believe that the cooperation with UDFJC University will make fruitful achievements in the long run as it will definitely promote the cultivation of Colombia's telecommunications talents and industry development."

While countries around the world have been hesitant to use Chinese telco equipment due to security concerns, countries in Europe and South America have continued to work with companies like ZTE and Huawei.

ZTE worked alongside Orange España in June to showcase various use cases for 5G networks in Valencia, Spain. The company has also launched cybersecurity labs in Brussels and Rome over the past three months, saying the labs are bids to alleviate privacy concerns surrounding its telco equipment. 

Meanwhile in the UK, all major telcos are using equipment from Huawei -- ZTE's compatriot -- in their 5G rollouts, despite the UK government not yet making a decision on whether Huawei equipment can be used on its next-generation networks. 

ZTE's telco equipment is currently only banned from participating in 5G rollouts in Australia, Japan, and the US with the countries citing that ZTE and Huawei are likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from Beijing. 

Prior to having its telco equipment banned in these countries, ZTE was banned from buying US components after the company was found to have breached a US trade embargo with Iran, which forced the company to axe over 3000 jobs due to the sanction's impact on its supply chain. The ban was eventually lifted in July last year after ZTE agreed to pay a tranche of a $1.4 billion penalty.

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