Sydney bans Huawei from cyber project

Sydney bans Huawei from cyber project

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Sydney bans Huawei from cyber project

Julia Gillard. AFP photo

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei has been blocked from bidding for contracts on Australia’s ambitious national broadband project, reportedly due to concerns about cyber-security.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard defended the move as in the national interest, without commenting on the government’s reasons for barring Huawei’s involvement in the massive AU$35.9 billion ($37.5 billion) project.

“The National Broadband Network (NBN) is a huge infrastructure project... and you would expect that as a government we would make all of the prudent decisions to make sure that that infrastructure project does what we want it to do and we’ve taken one of those decisions,” Gillard told reporters on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in Seoul.

A source familiar with the deal confirmed media reports that Huawei was told not to bother tendering for equipment contracts on the project late last year due to security concerns about cyber attacks from China.

Huawei, a major telecoms equipment maker founded by a former People’s Liberation Army engineer, had reportedly been endorsed by the government corporation implementing the NBN, NBN Co., but Canberra intervened.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon’s office said the NBN, which aims to connect 93 percent of Australian homes to superfast fibre-to-the-home Internet by 2017, would become “the backbone of Australia’s information infrastructure.”

“As such, and as a strategic and significant government investment, we have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect its integrity and that of the information carried on it,” a spokesman for Roxon told AFP.