Wednesday, May 29, 2019

'tis but a scratch

Nikkei Asian ReviewUndersea cables -- Huawei's ace in the hole

Huawei is said to be involved in some 30 undersea cable projects at the moment.

TOKYO -- While the U.S. is pressuring allies to help keep Huawei Technologies out of 5G cellular networks, the Chinese giant is quietly advancing in the global market for one of the most critical components of telecom infrastructure: undersea cables.

Virtually all of the world's data transmissions go through cables on the bottom of the oceans. Communications satellites are also used, but their share of the data amounts to just 1%. The U.S., Europe and Japan look like they have the cable market locked down, but their dominance may not be as secure as it seems.

Huawei put the industry on notice late last year, when it completed a cable between South America and Africa.

Right now, the world's attention is focused on Washington's drive to ban Huawei equipment from fifth-generation infrastructure, which will offer much faster wireless service than the current fourth-generation technology. Japan and Australia have essentially closed ranks with the U.S., and the Donald Trump administration is pressuring Britain, Germany and France to do the same -- reportedly going so far as to threaten to withhold important security information if they refuse.

Huawei, for its part, is showing no signs of backing down. The smartphone maker is gearing up for fresh sales drives in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. So the stage is set for a drawn-out fight between the U.S. and China over telecom technology and control of data.

In the fog of this battle, the cable issue has yet to draw much public attention. But security policymakers in the U.S., Japan and Australia are increasingly alarmed.

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