21Vianet 2600Hz 3Com 3GPP 3Leaf 4G 4G licensing 5G Africa Alcatel Shanghai Bell Alcatel-Lucent Alibaba Android antiitrust Apple APT Satellite Arete AT&T auction backbone Baidu Bain bandwidth base station Battery broadband cable CBN CCP censorship Cfius China China brands China FTTH China hi-tech China market China media China Mobile China Mobile Hong Kong China Science China Telecom China Unicom chips Ciena Cisco civil society CNNIC Communist Party convergence copyright CSL cybersecurity Datang drones Egypt Elop Ericsson EU Facebook FDD LTE FDD-LTE feature phones Fiberhome FLAG forecasts Foxconn FTZ Galaxy S3 Google GSMA GTI handset handsets Hisilicon HKBN HKIX HKT HKTV Hong Kong HTC Huawei Hugh Bradlow Hutchison India Infinera Innovation Intel internet investment iOS iPad iPad 2 iPhone IPv6 ITU Japan KDDI KT labour shortage Leadcore low-cost smartphone LTE MAC MAE Mandiant market access Mediatek Meego Miao Wei Microsoft MIIT mobile broadband mobile cloud mobile data mobile security mobile spam mobile TV mobile web Motorola music MVNO MWC national security NDRC New Postcom Nokia Nokia Siemens Nortel NSA NTT DoCoMo OTT Pacnet Panasonic patents PCCW piracy PLA politics Potevio price war private investment Project Loon Qualcomm quantum Reach regulation Reliance Communications Ren Zhengfei Renesys RIM roaming Samsung sanctions Scania Schindler security shanzhai Sharp SKT Skype smartphones Snowden software Sony Ericsson spectrum Spreadtrum standards startups subsea cables subsidies supply chain Symbian tablets Tata Communications TCL TD LTE TD-LTE TD-SCDMA Telstra Twitter urban environment USA US-China vendor financing Vitargent Vodafone New Zealand WAC WCIT Web 2.0 web freedom WeChat WhatsApp Wi-Fi Wikileaks Wimax Windows Mobile WIPO WTO Xi Guohua Xiaolingtong Xinjiang Xoom Youku YTL ZTE

Entries in Cisco (2)


Cisco brings its biggest & best to Beijing

Two points of interest in this short C114 story on China Mobile showing off SDN at a Beijing industry event yesterday.

First, almost a quarter of the China Mobile booth is taken up with SDN – a sign of intent if nothing else. Staff on the stand cited a script that referred to SDN as a way for China to "solve network congestion.”

Second, prominent on the stand was Cisco, showing off its NCS 6000 router - reportedly the only one of its kind in Asia-Pacific.  Given that this is a high-profile event organised by China Mobile, the largest industry player, and the telecoms and IT ministry, this surely scotches the idea that Cisco has become persona non grata in China because of the Snowden disclosures.

Sure, the fact that it brought along its biggest and best new router shows it's working hard to impress. But that also reminds us that Cisco has gear that China needs, and as long as that's the case it will make sales.



Spooks, spies and backup tape  

Gen. Michael Hayden’s lengthy encounter with the Australian Financial Review last week was unusual in itself.

Despite the appetite for spook-related stories these days, the most widely-reported part of the interview is the claim by the ex-CIA and NSA chief about Huawei's role in Chinese espionage.

What's telling is not the assertion, or the inevitable lack of accompanying hard fact; it's that the assertion itself is adequate.

Hayden tells the interviewer that Huawei “would have” shared its knowledge of foreign telecom systems with Chinese authorities.  Asked if evidence exists that Huawei has engaged in espionage on behalf of China, he replies (emphasis added):

Yes, I have no reason to question the belief that’s the case. That’s my professional judgement. But as the former director of the NSA, I cannot comment on specific instances of espionage or any operational matters.

Thus Huawei’s role as a security threat is reduced to a mere “belief”. Even within 'operational' constraints, if you have a case against someone, you will find a way to express it. And you would certainly put it with more conviction than the phrase above.

But Hayden does us an unintentional favour here by making it clear that Huawei is proscribed not because of what it's done but what it has the potential to do.

Hayden reveals that after retiring from the CIA he even received a pitch from Huawei in its search for Beltway advocates. According to Hayden, Huawei said all the right things: 

But God did not make enough briefing slides on Huawei to convince me that having them involved in our critical communications infrastructure was going to be okay. This is not blind prejudice on my part. This was my considered view based on a four-decade career as an intelligence officer.

He adds:

But frankly, given the overarching national security risks a foreign company helping build your national telecommunications networks creates, the burden of proof is not on us. It is on Huawei.

Leaving aside the ontological challenge of demonstrating that one is not a spy, this is the logic of the national security mindset. It takes a brave politician to challenge it and through the Cold War, the 'war on terror' and now the contest with China, it’s been the prevalent one in Washington.

The rest of world, including the telecom industry, has to live with it.  Telstra and PCCW are surely not the only operators to have signed pledges allowing the FBI access to their cables or to store data for its convenience.

But as this blog has suggested before, this logic makes suspects of all vendors.

In this part of the world, that puts the spotlight on Cisco. According to Ni Guangnan, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Engineers, Cisco provides 70%-80% of the backbone routers, international gateway nodes and super-nodes in the two biggest backbone networks, China Telecom and China Unicom.

In a widely-reported incident last October, Unicom swapped out Cisco routers for Huawei kit in what is said to be the world’s largest cluster node. Because of Cisco’s large installed base and the thousands of Cisco-qualified engineers, we won't see a rush to dump Cisco gear.

The Snowden saga has given China the ability to laugh off US complaints about its online data theft. Now the US national security case, as put by Hayden, is a script that China will faithfully adapt for its own purposes.

So stand by for the continued blocking of foreign telcos, more technology protectionism and the dextrous application of 'national security' to ensure China's networks are increasingly the preserve of the home team.