Technology

GSMA never sought to ban Huawei, says spokesman


BRUSSELS, FEB 11 — Putting an end to the confusion over whether the world’s leading mobile communications industry body has ever contemplated a ban on products of Chinese tech giant Huawei, GSMA told Xinhua that it has neither the willingness nor the power to ban any equipment provider.

GSMA, or GSM Association, was formed as “Groupe Speciale Mobile (GSM)” in 1982 by the Confederation of European Posts and Telecommunications to design a pan-European mobile technology.
The body now represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting more than 750 operators with over 350 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, and produces industry events such as the Mobile World Congress (MWC) annually in Barcelona and other cities.

On Feb. 2, the Reuters news agency released an “exclusive” news story “Mobile network operator’s body GSMA considers crisis meeting over Huawei”.
But the wording of the Reuters story has led to some confusion, with some English- and Chinese-language media outlets reporting, based solely on the Reuters piece, that GSMA was recommending a ban of Huawei products.

For example, the English-language Taiwan News reported on Feb. 3 that “Mobile network trade body GSMA is encouraging its members to discuss initiating a de facto ban on Huawei 5G equipment in the European Union amid security concerns.” The story is still available online on Monday Feb. 11.

In the Chinese-language mediasphere, there is also similar misinformation. The Chinese-language website of the Voice of America published a story titled “GSMA recommends EU to comprehensively ban Huawei products”. The report has since been deleted from the VOA website.

“The original Reuters report suggested that the GSMA were seeking to ban Huawei – which is incorrect,” Gareth Davies, director of GSMA’s Public Relations, told Xinhua via email on Sunday night.
GSMA then contacted Reuters and asked them to amend the report, Davies told Xinhua.
Asked by Xinhua if “GSMA has neither the willingness nor the power to ban any equipment provider,” Davies replied, “Correct.”

“The GSMA represents the interests of the mobile industry globally. We are closely monitoring how restrictions on the use of some manufacturers’ products will affect the global mobile ecosystem. We support scale, innovation and competition in our industry in order to ensure that individuals, businesses and governments continue to benefit from advances in mobile and other digital technologies,” Davies wrote.

As for the “crisis meeting over Huawei”, as reported by Reuters, Davies told Xinhua the agenda of the meeting was still not decided, adding “the meeting occurs every year at MWC and is for our mobile operator board members.”

The GSMA Board has 26 members bringing together the largest operator groups and members from smaller independent operators with global representation. Members include executives of big-name carriers such as Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Verizon and Chinese carriers.
“I can’t confirm what will be discussed at the meeting as it hasn’t been agreed,” Davies said. – XINHUA