South Koreans rebelling against LG ties with Huawei for 5G mobile phone network

by WorldTribune Staff, September 5, 2018

Amid heightened cyber espionage concerns, South Korean mobile carrier LG U+ is under pressure to exclude equipment from China’s Huwaei for the South’s 5G network.

The LG U+ 5G bus

“If Huawei’s equipment is introduced there is the possibility that various security problems become an issue,” said South Korean minister of Science and ICT Yoo Young-Min.

South Korea plans to be one of the first countries to offer 5G services, with its carriers promising 2019 launches.

Major carriers SK Telecom, KT, and LG U+ are all close to selecting their 5G network equipment suppliers, The Korea Times reported on Sept. 5.

Although the carriers have requested equipment proposals from Huawei, Samsung, Nokia, and Ericsson, lobbying by U.S. officials has influenced the South Korean carriers to consider bypassing Huawei, the report said.

A June report by noted that a group of U.S. lawmakers in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy Devos said Huawei’s “partnerships with more than 50 U.S. universities may be a national security threat.”

Last month, the Australian government decided to ban Huawei from rolling out 5G technology for the country’s wireless networks due to an “unacceptable security risk.”

Park Hye-Cheon, 52, a LG U+ customer in Seoul, told the Korea Times that she will change her mobile carrier if LG buys Huawei’s equipment.

“I’m worried that my personal information may end up in the hands of criminals who would use it to their advantage,” she said. “According to news reports, many criminal organizations notorious for phishing scams are active in China and their primary targets are Koreans.”

Lim Ji-Yeon, a long-time LG U+ customer in Goyang, also thinks LG should reconsider using Huwaei’s equipment for the 5G network.

“If the deal could jeopardize South Korea’s national security, LG should think deeply about its selection,” Lim told the Korea Times.

On the Cheong Wa Dae website, hundreds of have signed petitions against allowing Huawei to take part in the South’s 5G network rollout.

“Haven’t you learned anything from China’s THAAD revenge? I think the deal will eventually backfire (on Korea),” one petitioner said.

An LG official said the company has used Huawei’s equipment for its LTE infrastructure over the past several years without any major problems.

“We can’t say security issues surrounding Huawei have not affected us in terms of selecting our partners,” the official said. “But given that its equipment is good and price competitive, Huawei is certainly one of the strong candidates under our consideration.”

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