Canada’s government has outlined plans to outlaw use of equipment supplied by Huawei and ZTE from the country’s 5G networks, with operators given until 28 June 2024 to strip out existing assets and terminate related managed service contracts.
The proposal, which is not yet law, will also ban procurement of new 4G or 5G equipment from the pair and associated services from the start of September. Operators will also be obliged to remove existing 4G kit supplied by Huawei and ZTE by end-2027.
Alongside bans on mobile network equipment, Canada also intends to impose restrictions on purchase of certain fibre products, but did not detail this element of the proposed law.
In a statement Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne cited security as the reason for its decision, explaining it came after “a thorough review by our independent security agencies and in consultation with our closest allies”.
Canada’s government intends to include the rules in its new telecommunications security framework and will amend the country’s Telecommunications Act.
Huawei and ZTE are already subject to various restrictions from several of Canada’s closest allies including the US, UK and Australia.
“Given the greater interconnectedness and interdependence of 5G networks, a breach or exploitation in this environment would have a more significant impact on the safety and security of Canadians and Canadian critical infrastructure than in previous network generations,” the government explained.
It added the proposals and timelines are subject to consultation, including with industry on the logistics of implementation.
Huawei and ZTE have frequently denied their equipment constitutes a security risk.
In statements to Mobile World Live, the vendors each suggested Canada’s proposal was motivated more by politics than genuine security concerns.
ZTE branded the premise of Canada’s plan “highly speculative”, noting it provided authorities across the world with open access to its cybersecurity facilities while emphasising the wide-reaching role of its technology in fields spanning medicine, science and education.
Huawei also highlighted potential detriment to Canada’s economy, noting its hardware and software had been “routinely and closely scrutinised by the government and its security agencies” during its 13-year presence in the country.