Huawei to build wireless network for Canadian north

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 23 2019 06:57 AM

A Huawei logo is seen on a cell phone screen in their store at Vina del Mar, Chile July 18, 2019. Rodrigo Garrido, Reuters

OTTAWA - Embattled Chinese telecom giant Huawei unveiled plans Monday to deploy high-speed wireless internet to dozens of underserved communities in Canada's remote northern regions.

The move -- mostly 4G deployments and not the superfast fifth-generation or 5G -- comes with Huawei under sanctions in the United States over national security concerns and amid a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China over the detention of a Huawei executive in Vancouver.

Huawei said it would partner with Ice Wireless and Iristel to help them connect by 2025 rural communities in the Arctic as well as remote areas of northeastern Quebec and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Huawei added that some 25 communities in the largely Inuit areas of the Nunavut territory would also benefit from the deployment.

"We strongly believe that everyone should be connected to 4G LTE, no matter where they live in Canada -- even in areas where high-speed service may not be economically viable," said Eric Li, president of Huawei Canada.

Although most Canadians have access to high-speed internet, connectivity remains unavailable across some sparsely populated areas of the country.

Huawei officials said they will work to deploy wireless internet that will operate in some of the coldest temperatures on earth.

"We need to use highly reliable, world-class equipment to minimize physical intervention and to avoid outages that risk making our communities isolated once again. That's why we partner with Huawei Canada," said Jean-Francois Dumoulin, vice president at Ice Wireless and Iristel.

The move comes with Washington pressuring its allies to avoid using Huawei for deployment of 5G wireless, claiming the Chinese firm's ties to Beijing and its intelligence services could pose security risks.

Meanwhile tensions have been high between Beijing and Ottawa since the arrest in December of Huawei chief financial officer Neng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of Washington.

US authorities want to put her on trial on fraud charges for allegedly violating Iran sanctions and lying about it to US banks -- accusations that Meng's lawyers dispute.

Since then, two Canadians have been arrested in China in what has been viewed as retaliation for Meng's detention.