Banning Huawei

I’ve been thinking, do people know Huawei was actually banned back in 2011?

For those of you that don’t know, Chinese telecom vendors were actually partially banned back in 2011, but only for large telecom companies. Many of you think former President Trump did this without any real evidence, but it all started under President Obama back in 2011 and 2012. 

It isn’t new, but the reality is that China is one of the top Cyber Spying countries in the world. Probably up there with the US, the difference is that China will spy on friends, foes, and its own people along with anyone to help the government’s interests. 

Do they trust their own people? It doesn’t sound like it. For example, the highest concentration of cameras is in Beijing and across China according to a Comparitech article. Per the article, “54 percent of the world’s cameras are located in China” and “Cities of China* — 540m cameras to 1.46bn people = 372.8 cameras per 1,000 people”. Crazy, right? The next closest is India which has 64.52 cameras per 1,000 people. India has a very dense population as does China. In the US, LA is the largest at 8.77 cameras per 1,000 people.

It seems that US private citizens buy a lot of cameras for individual use. I’m not sure how many cameras Chinese citizens have.  

Who is the most paranoid government in the world? Let the numbers do the talking. Of course, I would bet North Korea still has the tightest reign on its people. Even China sees the benefits of capitalism. 

I do remember how good Huawei looked back in 2011. We didn’t see ZTE as a threat, but Huawei was a force to be reckoned with. Their marketing material was amazing. They seemed to have all the answers.

They had all the answers for WiMAX, 3G, and the transition to LTE. It was unbelievable. It didn’t make sense to any of us because we knew that LTE required new hardware to make things work. Their data sheets looked amazing because it appeared one box could do it all. Greatest marketing material ever. 

They were so cheap and they promised the world. Their business proposals were too good to be true. So maybe they were too good to be true.

Reality set in, they could not deliver quite the way they promised. I guess it was too good to be true. We got the intelligence that they couldn’t do what they said they could do back then. They did work hard to make things right. I would like to say I think they lost money, but they didn’t seem to because they apparently paid their people way less than western countries pay. But their workers worked hard to make things right. Seriously, the Chinese workers worked hard, but not necessarily smarter. They spent a lot of time repeating mistakes. Eventually, they got it.

Now, with all that said, Huawei has some pretty great gear today, but now that they’re not a competitor in the US, I can’t tell if it’s getting better or not. 

If they had problems, they had what appeared to be armies of Chinese engineers to throw at any problem. Amazing! How do I know that? Because a few Canadian companies went all in. Something they probably regretted in 2021. 

So back in 2011 and 2012, Huawei was banned from the larger telecoms in the USA. Thank you!!! Selfishly, I was glad because I worked at Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) and that would have destroyed our business.  Which meant that we had tons of meetings on how to combat this. Well, I think AT&T and Verizon would have stuck with us, but Sprint was all about saving a buck.  

Unfortunately for Sprint and Huawei, their lobbying back then was not so strong. Huawei and the Chinese Government’s involvement was perceived as a threat by the US Government. Thank you, FBI. However, thanks to free trade, they still got to sell to the US Tier 2 and 3 carriers. Again, under President Trump, they were forced to rip out all Huawei and ZTE gear in the states.

Huawei would ship in a lot of Chinese engineers, which to me were treated poorly by American standards. When you talk to those guys all you could do was feel sorry for them. No wonder so many wanted to live and work here. 

By the way, if you want to learn what President Obama and then Vice President Biden did back then, read this and this. 

Now, let’s talk about Clearwire. 

Clearwire was a WiMAX company that actually built a nearly nationwide WiMAX network. A true data network for hot spots and fixed wireless. Today that seems normal, back then it was groundbreaking. In fact, ahead of its time. 

Lots of microwave backhaul. A WiMAX network built mostly with Huawei equipment. That’s right folks, a Chinese vendor deployed across the US.

They built it on 2.5 GHz spectrum, today it’s known as Band 41. Yes, formerly Sprint’s spectrum where they built 4G and 5G Massive MIMO and today it’s T-Mobile’s spectrum for 5G Massive MIMO. It’s been a crazy 14 years. 

While you may or may not remember the history behind this, Sprint eventually took the spectrum back and shuttered WiMAX in favor of LTE. Remember Xohm? 

This was another Sprint business disaster as they tried to be pioneers and all they got was pain. I believe it was because WiMAX never evolved nor got industry support as LTE did.

We saw a lot of technologies die, even WCDMA, the evolution of CDMA. GSM was also left by the wayside, although it’s more of the foundation for LTE.

In 2013 Sprint bought all of Clearwire for something like $2.2B, you know, because they had money to burn. They did get the 2.5GHz spectrum, which today is very valuable. 

Oh, WiMAX, what great technology. 

Sprint decided to shut down the WiMAX network in 2014, shutting it down in 2015, really 2016 until it was mostly shut down. 

Sprint did not try to go with Huawei when they moved to LTE. They already had partners in Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung. Huawei was done with WiMAX and Sprint. Gone and being removed at sites.


Swapping Huawei

We saw a more aggressive approach in 2020 with the US banning all Chinese Telecom gear. 

So many US and Canadian telecom companies have been swapping Huawei gear out, mostly on the government’s dime. That’s fair considering that the government forced them to swap and it costs many millions, perhaps over a billion dollars. 

Swapping out the core, routers, RAN, and microwave networks. 

This was a lot of work for all parties involved. For the Non-Chinese OEMs, it was great. For the telecom tower workers, it was a good thing. It was good for all outside of Huawei and ZTE. 

All this at the government’s expense. 

I think most of you know what’s happening today. Most of the people reading this are probably involved. 

We also know that the feds in the US didn’t quite pay for everything. This is an ongoing battle. 

Huawei moving forward

We covered a lot of history here. Chinese vendor issues and the death of WiMAX. I am just tying it all together for you. 

Well, since the US pointed out the issues with Huawei, crazy at first, but the English apparently found some evidence of security flaws or “backdoors” in Huawei gear. I read an article here that shared a report that can be found here. 

So, we don’t know what’s really going on, but it seems like the companies that are stuck with Huawei are at risk. On the other hand, maybe Huawei fixed the issue. Who knows? I don’t. 

I do know that relations between China and the West are probably the worst ever. Russia invading Ukraine didn’t help either side. 

Just so you know, China is tightly aligned with Iran and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Iran is accused of supporting terrorist acts against the west and the Congo has allegations of a slave trade to mine Cobalt. 

I hope we can work things out because a war would be awful for everyone involved, except maybe Russia. 

I am surprised China didn’t just start to exert its dominance over Russia, not sure what they’re waiting for. To me, it’s clear China needs the natural resources and Russia is vulnerable. China is now the big boy who can push Russia around. 

I guess that’s another article.


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