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Huawei crackdown

Vietnam's Viettel shuns Huawei 5G tech over cybersecurity

Country's top three carriers choose alternatives to Chinese gear supplier

Smartphones on the streets of Hanoi: Vietnam's leading carriers will not be using Huawei Technologies to build their 5G networks.   © Reuters

HANOI -- Viettel Group, Vietnam's largest mobile carrier, has decided not to use Huawei Technologies equipment for its 5G wireless network, citing security concerns with the Chinese company.

The military-run telecom will rely mainly on hardware supplied by Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Ericsson, according to local media reports.

Viettel joins a growing list of carriers and nations to reject Huawei over allegations of cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

"Many other countries, including the U.S., have found evidence that showed using Huawei is not safe for the security of the national network," Viettel CEO Le Dang Dung told Bloomberg in an interview. "So we need to be more cautious."

The U.S. has spearheaded an effort encouraging allies and other nations to blacklist Huawei. But Dung insisted that Viettel reached its decision independently.

"We decided not to use Huawei, not because of the U.S.'s ban on Huawei -- we just made our own decision," he said.

Two other major Vietnamese telecoms appear to have distanced themselves from Huawei as well. Vietnam Telecom Services, the second-ranked player known as Vinaphone, has opted to procure Nokia equipment for its 5G network. MobiFone, ranked third, is working with Samsung Electronics. Neither has confirmed that it will exclude Huawei.

Like Viettel, Vinaphone and MobiFone are state-run enterprises.

"It's possible that considerations were made regarding the U.S.," a diplomatic source said.

Vietnam is bucking the trend in Southeast Asia, where several nations have embraced Huawei. Smart Axiata, Cambodia's largest mobile carrier, has joined with the Chinese provider to launch what could be the region's first fifth-generation wireless network, with service set to go live by the end of the year.

Though Vietnam possesses strong trade ties with China, Hanoi is cooperating with the U.S. on the security front. Vietnam is also at odds with China over territorial rights in the South China Sea, which has fueled a strong anti-Beijing sentiment among Vietnamese.

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