NZ's Pacific Fibre jabs at Huawei
Over the weekend, it was revealed China's Huawei has been blocked from bidding for tenders associated with the Australian government's $A32 billion National Broadband Network (NBN) - a domestic project.
Today, the Chinese telecommunications giant faces fresh controversy following reports the Australian government is also investigating a proposed $A300 Perth-Singapore submarine fibre optic cable, proposed by Huawei in January.
On this side of the Tasman, Pacific Fibre chief executive Mark Rushworth has waded into the debate.
Mr Rushworth said he was confident his company's proposed $US400 million trans-Pacific cable will be free of similar controversy. The cable will be laid by New Jersy-based TE Subcom, a vendor pushed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her 2010 NZ visit, during which she met briefly with the Pacific Fibre boss.
"Having a US vendor on board reduces the risk of Pacific Fibre facing the same concerns from regulatory authorities in relation to security breaches on our cable system," Mr Rushworth said this afternoon.
TE Subcom CEO David Coughlan, Pacific Fibre boss Mark Rushworth and US Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich at a signing ceremony for Pacific Fibre's cable contract with the New Jersey-based TE Subcom.
"Last month we announced the completion of our Californian and Australian landings desktop study and Californian permitting in conjunction with TE Subcom."
Initial approvals have been obtained from Californian permitting authorities, Mr Ruthworth said.
He told told NBR this afternoon, "It's fantastic to have TE Subcom onboard building Pacific Fibre. Their track record gives us confidence around US and Australian permitting."
Clearly with his eye on the main chance, Mr Rushwoth added, tartly, "Where this leaves the proposed Huawei-built transtasman cable is another question."
Huawei Marine and a second Chinese company, Axin, have proposed an Auckland-Sydney submarine cable, with state-owned Kordia vying for the right to manage it.
(Huawei Marine is a joint venture between UK-based Global Marine Systems, which claims to have installed more undersea fibre optic cables than any other operator, and Huawei.)
The comment is a change in tone from when Axin and Huawei Marine first announced their cable - at which time he told he welcomed the competition. Possibly he still does - but apparently that doesn't mean he's above making the competition a little harder.