What happened: On Wednesday, Randall Stephenson, AT&T’s CEO said in a speech in Washington that Huawei is making it very difficult for European internet carriers to drop the Chinese tech giant from their supply chains for 5G. “If you have deployed Huawei as your 4G network, Huawei is not allowing interoperability to 5G—meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with Huawei for 5G,” he said, adding that the US government could do a better job of explaining security risks related to using Huawei.
Why it’s important: Stephenson’s statements add to the brewing row between Huawei and the US. As the Chinese company tries to convince foreign governments to allow internet carriers to use its equipment in building the next generation of the internet, Washington is advocating that this would come with huge security risks. Europe is a key battleground due to its market size and 5G readiness. The discord has mainly revolved around data privacy, but Stephenson’s remarks point to national security risks related with IoT infrastructure.