BARCELONA, Spain — As debate swirls around the Chinese tech giant Huawei and security concerns about the use of its equipment in other countries, the matter was high on the agenda for global telecom leaders this week at the world’s largest mobile gathering.
SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho told reporters that telco chiefs participating in Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, had engaged in “heated debate” over how much they should get involved in the controversy in the face of growing pressure.
|SK Telecom CEO Park Jung-ho (center left) talks with OECD Secretary-general Jose Angel Gurria who visited the firm`s booth at the MWC 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, Monday. (Yonhap)|
While the attendees did not agree on any specific measures regarding the Chinese company, widely suspected of engaging in illicit activities for Beijing, Park said telecom operators agreed on the need for a united front amid concerns that the burgeoning issue might hurt their business interests.
“From the mobile operators’ perspective, we need a healthy ecosystem for a secure supply chain — regardless of whether the accusations against Huawei are true or false,” said Park, who met with other mobile operators on Sunday, a day before MWC 2019 kicked off.
Park is one of 26 board members in charge of an international body formed to represent mobile carriers’ interests. Called the GSM Association or GSMA, the body runs annual MWC events. Park was elected to his current position in 2016. “Personally, I don’t think it is appropriate for (mobile operators) to get too involved with regional geopolitics. I think we have to be professional in dealing with such issues and approach them from a technological point of view.”
Controversy persists over the US government’s pressure on its allies to stop using Huawei equipment for fifth-generation networks amid an extensive tech war between the US and China.
In a letter dated Feb. 14, the GSMA addressed the situation in Europe, indicating — albeit in toned-down wording — that circumstances in Europe and other regions might differ in the quest to consider “security, competition, innovation and consumer impact.”
“Specifically actions that disrupt the equipment supply for the various segments of the network, will increase costs to European operators, businesses and citizens; delay 5G deployment by years across Europe and potentially also jeopardize the functioning of existing 4G networks upon which 5G is intended to be built,” read the statement.
By Yeo Jun-suk, Korea Herald correspondent