BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 30, 2019– In the telecommunication world, talk has been stirring over the recent ban by the US government on the Chinese tech giant, Huawei. The franchise had been accused by United States president Donald Trump of several security breaches and the violation of US sanctions against Iran, leading to the banning of all Huawei devices in America.
Huawei has been a longtime partner of Belize Telecommunications Limited, which entered into a 40-million-dollar deal with them in 2016 to roll out the 4G LTE mobile network that serves all Digi users countrywide.
Considering the direct link between Huawei and BTL, many are wondering what these US restrictions will mean for Belizeans who are currently subscribed to Digi’s mobile service, especially in regards to the removal of all Google apps from Huawei’s mobile devices.
Many of the features used both for business and leisure, such as Gmail, Google Maps and the entire Google Play Store (used to download and update apps on all android devices) have been blocked by the U.S. government.
Thankfully, Android executives released a statement stating that their apps will function as per usual on all current devices manufactured by Huawei. However, future models may come with an entirely new operating system (OS). Unfortunately, technical support will no longer be made available and app updates may be delayed, which can have a direct effect on the functionality and security of most smart phones of this type that are in circulation.
In addition, this ban comes at an incredibly inconvenient time for BTL, as the launch of the 5G mobile network is well underway. In February at the annual World Congress Conference in Barcelona, Huawei had announced that its first 5G device, the Mate 20x 5G, would be available this year and 5G would be available on three major networks (namely O2, Three and EE); however, EE has already removed this device from their line up in light of the security allegations against Huawei.
It is uncertain at this time whether BTL will seek to upgrade to the 5G network via Huawei, but other large tech brands in the US and UK have followed suit to boycott the brand.
Allegations against Huawei include claims that the company is guilty of stealing trade secrets, fraud and the previously mentioned violation of US sanctions on Iran. Under these new sanctions, Digi customers will surely be affected by these delayed updates and security vulnerabilities unless a new network provider is contracted.
Given that we are still under a contract with Huawei, it is likely that when Digi is prepared to update to the 5G network, it will be provided by Huawei ,which will give the company access to a wider scope of Belize’s information and data authority.