Vodaphone, Universities and Prince Charles’s Charity Latest to Back Away from Huawei

Huawei’s woes just keep piling up, as more companies and organizations get nervous about using the Chinese firm’s gear or even accepting its donations.

The world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer is at the center of a drawn-out political storm, with many countries’ security agencies warning of the potential for Chinese intelligence using its products as a spying conduit, and the company being hit by accusations of sanctions-busting. Huawei denies that these concerns are valid.

On Thursday, communications giant Vodafone said it is pausing the deployment of new Huawei equipment in its core networks across the globe. The core networks are particularly sensitive as if they are compromised, mass spying can be conducted across them.

Vodafone CEO Nick Read said his company would still buy radio equipment — the stuff that goes on masts, to connect people’s phones to the core network — from Huawei, however. This runs contrary to the approach taken by the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, who have banned even those uses for Huawei equipment.

“We need to get the facts on the table and make clear what the plan of action should be,” Read said, according to the Financial Times. He also said a “blanket ban” on the Chinese firm’s equipment would slow Vodafone’s rollout of 5G networks.

The U.K. government has not demanded any ban on using Huawei equipment, but its spies have warned that the company’s products pose a security risk, and the British telecoms firm BT has also removed Huawei’s equipment from its core mobile network.

Huawei recently threatened to withdraw from Western countries whose governments demand restrictions on its equipment’s use.

Also in the U.K., the Prince’s Trust youth charity has decided to stop taking donations from Huawei “in light of public concerns.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reported Thursday that many U.S. universities — including the University of California at Berkeley and UC San Diego — are removing Huawei equipment and shunning its cash. They apparently don’t want to lose funding under the terms of last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which banned federal funding recipients from using certain products and services offered by Huawei and ZTE, another Chinese manufacturer that has raised similar red flags.

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