Globe moving away from Huawei
Globe Telecom general counsel Froilan Castelo yesterday told the Senate committee on public services, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, that the company’s board has started negotiations with Huawei, accused of spying by the US and its allies, on the replacement of its equipment by other companies.
STAR/ File
Globe moving away from Huawei
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - September 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Globe Telecom has begun to replace its Huawei-supplied equipment to “non-Huawei” devices as the quarrel between the US and other western countries and the Chinese telecommunications company continues to escalate.

Globe Telecom general counsel Froilan Castelo yesterday told the Senate committee on public services, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, that the company’s board has started negotiations with Huawei, accused of spying by the US and its allies, on the replacement of its equipment by other companies.

“Because of these developments coming in from the US and Europe, we’re coming up with a strategy for another network which is based on non-Chinese telco equipment providers,” Castelo said when asked by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on whether or not the Globe board has taken cognizance of the security concerns against Huawei.

He said 80 percent of its equipment is from Huawei and the remainder are “non-Huawei,” such as Ericsson and Nokia.

Castelo, however, said the trend now is toward 5G, of which Huawei is ahead by a year and a half compared to its competitors.

He said 5G is “very relevant” to the country being an archipelago that needs better wireless connectivity, adding that Globe has an agreement with Huawei for its 5G rollout.

“But just the same, we have already assured the US government, and the US embassy, for that matter, that network security is our concern. We are primarily responsible for network security and Huawei is merely an equipment provider. And we are totally responsible for it,” he said.

He added that Globe has network security advisers from Israel and the US who regularly audit its network for any lapses or leakages.

Recto noted that Huawei purchases all its electronic chips from US companies, which are expected to stop selling the same to China next month, which means the Chinese telco’s advantage in supplying to Philippine companies is “diminished.”

Castelo said Huawei has assured Globe that it has “locally grown” companies that can continue supplying equipment despite the US ban.

Foreign  ownership

Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda yesterday defended a proposal seeking to amend the Public Service Act to allow full foreign ownership in the public service sector, including in the telecommunications industry.

Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, said that amending the law and removing telcos from the list of industries classified as public utilities as provided under the antiquated Commonwealth Act 146 is within the powers of Congress, including the authority to set economic and tax policies.

Salceda, author of House Bill 78, dismissed a warning issued by retired senior associate justice Antonio Carpio that the measure, once passed into law, would be voided by the Supreme Court for usurpation of the judiciary’s exclusive power to interpret the Constitution.

Carpio, at a recent forum, said that Congress would violate the Constitution should it pass the bill, which will redefine “public utilities” and exclude telecommunications companies from the 60-percent Filipino ownership rule.

He said the measure would amend the Charter without the people’s consent.

“The Supreme Court is supreme because it is the final interpreter of words and phrases in the Constitution. This is a battle of turf between Congress and the Supreme Court… So I can tell you the Supreme Court will decide on this, and they will decide that Congress cannot usurp the power of the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter of interpreting the Constitution,” Carpio explained.

The issue surrounding the telecommunications sector came up during discussions on Dito Telecommunity Corp., which is 40 percent owned by a Chinese company and is set to become the Philippines’ third telco player. – Edu Punay

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