B.C. telecom provider launches Huawei trials amid China tensions

Broadband internet trials come as Canada faces pressure to ban Huawei equipment from 5G network

ABC Communications is launching a service trial in rural B.C. using Huawei equipment | Shutterstock

Ongoing tensions between Canada and China stemming from Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. don’t appear to be cooling interest from at least one B.C. telecom provider.

ABC Communications, which specializes servicing rural clients, is launching a trial using Huawei’s rural broadband technology in a bid to deliver high-speed internet in Lac La Hache, located in the Cariboo region.

ABC Communications CEO Bob Allen said in a statement that providing customers with reliable service was his company’s top priority.

“I am thrilled to showcase Huawei's Massive MIMO rural broadband systems and the tremendous positive impact this technology will have on the future services we deliver to our valued customers," he said.

Tensions between Canada and China have been white hot since the December arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver International Airport following an extradition order from the U.S.

China has subsequently arrested a number of Canadians, including diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman and Michael Spavor, and sentenced Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for drug smuggling following a sudden retrial.

Canada also finds itself under pressure to ban Huawei equipment from its future 5G network.

Bell Canada and Vancouver-based Telus Corp. (TSX: T) have been partnering with Huawei to develop the future network while the federal government conducts a security review of risks posed by the Chinese technology giant.

Canadian intelligence allies such as Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. have already banned Huawei’s 5G equipment over espionage concerns.

The U.K. is also conducting a review.

ABC Communications president Chris Allen said his company has been partnering with Huawei for years prior to the latest service trial.

“If we couldn’t gain access to this, we’d be going back five years in terms of where we’re at in speed and delivery. Our networks just wouldn’t handle it at all. That would be the effect of taking Netflix away from large parts of the province if we didn’t have access to this technology,” he told Business in Vancouver.

“From our point of view, they make the best gear. This is the next evolution of that gear and we’re excited about providing service to rural British Columbians and this is the only way we have.”

Updated with comments from Chris Allen.