Thursday, October 11, 2012

Huawei's relationship with BT under investigation by MPs

Chinese mobile firm Huawei facing international blacklisting
Huawei has denied any links with cybercrime and calls the allegations 'monstrous and market-distorting'. Photograph: Reuters

The longstanding commercial relationship between BT and Huawei is being investigated by parliament's intelligence and security committee, its chairman Sir Malcolm Rifkind has confirmed to the Guardian.
In a move that could cause disruption to major broadband and mobile phone infrastructure projects in the UK should security fears be raised about Huawei's equipment, the committee is "reviewing the whole presence of Huawei in regard to our critical national infrastructure and whether that should give rise for concern".
The committee has been taking evidence in private for some months from members of the security services, and is considering whether to make some of its findings and recommendations public. A report will be sent to David Cameron before Christmas.
"In the background are allegations that Huawei has links to the People's Liberation Army in China, and that any Chinese company is ultimately subject to the Chinese government," said Rifkind.
Huawei is a supplier to BT, which gave the Chinese company its first big contract in western Europe in 2005, using its equipment to modernise its copper broadband service. Huawei is now a big supplier to BT's national rollout of fibre-optic broadband, one of the largest infrastructure projects under way in the UK. Its equipment has also been used to build the 4G network being launched at the end of this month by EE, the owner of Orange and T-Mobile, and other clients include TalkTalk, Vodafone and BSkyB.
"We are looking into the relationship that has developed between Huawei and British Telecom and the implications for the UK," said Rifkind. "We wanted to look at the historical background to that contract, to what extent there were security concerns at the time, whether and to what extend the British government were involved in these decisions, and whether there have been any causes for concern that have arisen since Huawei became involved in our telecoms infrastructure."
A spokesman for Huawei said of the intelligence and security committee's inquiry, for which the firm has not so far been asked to give evidence: "We have been operating in the UK since 2001 under UK scrutiny and procedures. We have regular contact with the government and welcome all discussions and questions."
Two years ago, the company established a centre in Banbury where its equipment for BT and other companies can be tested and monitored, in co-operation with security services staff. A BT spokesman said: "Huawei is one of our major suppliers. This has in no way affected our ability to ensure the security of our networks."
A negative report card from British politicians would be embarrassing for Cameron, who met Huawei's founder Ren in Downing Street only last month. It could also disrupt the roll out of fibre and 4G mobile internet in the UK.
"If the UK takes the same stance as the US, and I would be surprised if they did, there will be all kinds of consequences," said Bengt Nordström, chief executive of telecoms consultancy Northstream. "It would mean that you need to agree on terms for de-commissioning, find a replacement vendor, tear out the old equipment, install the new. It's a complicated costly exercise that will delay whatever plans they have. There is an impact for the major infrastructure projects in the UK."
The Shenzhen-based company has been blacklisted in Australia, where it was barred from supplying the country's new national fibre network, and the US House of Representatives' intelligence select committee this week called for Huawei and its Chinese rival ZTE to be excluded from doing business in the US on the grounds that their equipment could be used by the state or other interests in China for cyber-espionage.
The Canadian government is indicating that it too might exclude the company from involvement in government communications projects because of potential security risks. In Brussels, the European trade commissioner, Karel De Gucht, was gathering evidence for an inquiry into both companies on the grounds that state support may allow them to sell equipment at a loss, but that was put on ice after European competitors declined to file formal complaints. A source has told the Guardian this was for fear of reprisals from China.
At the centre of the concerns is that Huawei's networks are not secure and could be open to espionage. The US has voiced concerns that China could use equipment made by the company – whose founder, Ren, was once a technician in the People's Liberation Army – to spy on communications and threaten vital systems through computerised links.
The chairman of the US House of Representatives' intelligence committee, Mike Rogers, himself a former FBI agent, said: "My argument is that if this helps the Chinese government get out of the business of cyber-espionage, then that is great."
Huawei denies all links with spying and cybercrime, and calls the allegations "a monstrous, market-distorting, trade-distorting policy precedent that could be used in other markets against American companies".
While its US presence is limited, Huawei has used the UK as a launchpad for rapid expansion in Europe, where its rise has contributed to the fall of a number of western rivals.
One of the first casualties was the venerable British firm Marconi, which lost its largest client when BT chose Huawei - and a handful of other suppliers - for its 21st century network copper broadband upgrade. Within a year, the telecoms and defence firm, once a bellwether of the UK economy, had been broken up and sold.
A similar fate has befallen American vendors Nortel and Motorola, and a once bustling sector is braced for further retrenchment, with both France's Alcatel-Lucent and Finland's Nokia Siemens Networks having experienced financial turbulence.
Unlike the state controlled oil, energy and banking groups that dominate the list of China's largest companies, Huawei is one of a select few, like the internet group Alibaba, to have a brand that is familiar to Western consumers.

Stan Abrams, a Beijing-based corporate lawyer, lecturer and commentator, says "reciprocity" has been a feature of Chinese trade policy, and there could be repercussions for Western companies hoping to do business in China after Huawei's public humiliation at the hands of the US legislature.

UIAM, UiTM johan Pertandingan Debat Piala Perdana Menteri raih hadiah RM25,000

KUALA LUMPUR 10 Okt. - Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM) muncul johan Pertandingan Debat Akhir Debat Piala Perdana Menteri Antara Institusi Pengajian Tinggi (IPT) 2012 bagi kategori Bahasa Melayu setelah mengalahkan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) di Universiti Malaya (UM) hari ini.

Kemenangan pada pertandingan anjuran Yayasan Gerakan Kesederhanaan Global (GMM) dan MyHarapan dengan kerjasama Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi itu membolehkan UIAM meraih wang tunai bernilai RM25,000 manakala naib johan menerima RM15,000.

Hadiah disampaikan oleh Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yang turut diiringi Menteri Pengajian Tinggi, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin dan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif GMM, Khalek Awang.

Pada pertandingan tersebut, UIAM dan UKM mendebatkan usul Dewan ini percaya bahawa tukul dan perisai kekerasan adalah perlu untuk melindungi kesederhanaan.

UKM yang berperanan sebagai kerajaan diwakili Najjah Izzati Suleman selaku Perdana Menteri dibantu oleh Muhammad Affendy Masni (Timbalan Perdana Menteri) dan Sonia Hii.

UIAM pula bertindak sebagai pembangkang dengan dibarisi Fawza Sabila Fauzi (ketua), Abdul Muiz Mustafa dan Muhamad Khairulanam Zulkeply.

Najjah Izzati bersama rakan-rakannya mendefinisikan tukul dan besi kekerasan sebagai undang-undang yang diperlukan untuk menentang ekstremisme dan melindungi kesederhanaan.

Sementara itu, Fawza Sabila dan rakan-rakannya mendefinisikan perkara itu sebagai medium kekerasan yang tidak diperlukan di negara mengamalkan kesederhanaan.

Bagi kategori Bahasa Inggeris, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) muncul johan mengalahkan UIAM.

Mendebatkan usul To achieve peace, this House believes that oppressed minorities should moderate their demand, even when it means foregoing some rights and principle (Untuk mencapai keamanan, Dewan percaya minoriti yang tertindas harus menyederhanakan permintaan mereka walaupun perkara itu berkaitan dengan persoalan hak dan prinsip), UiTM berperanan sebagai pembangkang manakala UIAM bertindak sebagai kerajaan.

UiTM dibarisi Noor Atiqah Mohd. Zaki, Mohd. Syafiq Ahmed Bazari dan Maizura Mokhsein sementara UIAM pula diketuai Mubarrat Wassey bergandingan dengan Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman dan Arinah Najwa Ahmad Said.

Pendebat terbaik kategori Bahasa Melayu dan Bahasa Inggeris masing-masing menjadi milik Abdul Muiz Mustafa (UIA) dan Maizura Mokhsein (UiTM).

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(Reuters) - China's Lenovo Group Ltd edged out Silicon Valley icon Hewlett-Packard Co to become the world's No. 1 PC maker in the third quarter, according to new data released by research house Gartner on Wednesday.

Lenovo's laptop PCs are displayed at an electronic shop in Tokyo September 5, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Lenovo's laptop PCs are displayed at an electronic shop in Tokyo September 5, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

SAN FRANCISCO | Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:20pm EDT

A rival to Gartner, IDC, still ranks HP in the lead -- but by less than half a percentage point -- in terms of PC shipments worldwide. But both studies reinforce HP's struggles against rivals as new CEO Meg Whitman tries to overhaul the stalled 73-year-old company.

Worldwide shipments of personal computers fell over 8 percent last quarter, according to both research firms, which blamed myriad factors including retailers and vendors ridding themselves of older inventory ahead of the launch of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system, the growing popularity of mobile gadgets like tablets, and a slowing economy.

PC demand growth has crumbled over the past year as more consumers flock to ultra-portable and increasingly powerful tablets and smartphones for basic computing.

Both sets of data show that Lenovo, Acer and other Asian PC makers are taking share away from U.S. competitors HP and Dell, which held on to the No. 3 spot in the quarter.

Lenovo's rise highlights the advance of China's technology firms on the world stage in recent years thanks to a combination of aggressive pricing, overseas acquisitions and taking advantage of a fast-growing home market.

The Chinese firm, which vaulted into the PC market by buying IBM's personal computer division in 2005, took the top spot for the first time by growing its market share to 15.7 percent, shipping an estimated 13.77 million units during the quarter, up nearly 10 percent from a year ago, Gartner said.

HP's global PC share stood at 15.5 percent after shipping 13.55 million units, down 16.4 percent from a year ago, Gartner said, adding that this is the first time HP has given up the top PC vendor position since 2006.

IDC had HP at the No. 1 spot with 15.9 percent market share and Lenovo coming a close second with 15.7 percent share.

HP responded to Gartner's study by saying IDC's was more expansive.

"While there are a variety of PC share reports in the market, some don't measure the market in its entirety," HP said in a statement. "The IDC analysis includes the very important workstation segment, and therefore is more comprehensive."

Shares of HP on Wednesday closed 1.32 percent lower at $14.18, after touching $14.02, its lowest level since October 2002.

Analysts say PC makers have been sideswiped by still-sluggish growth in consumer and corporate spending across the globe, even in once-reliably hot markets like China, Lenovo's home turf. The industry is now grappling with uncertainty out to 2013, partly because of a proliferation of computing devices from tablets of all sizes to smartphones.

"PCs are going through a severe slump," said Jay Chou, senior research analyst, IDC's Worldwide PC Tracker.

"A weak global economy as well as questions about PC market saturation and delayed replacement cycles are certainly a factor, but the hard question of what is the 'it' product for PCs remain unanswered."

(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)
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