Last week, the UK Government drew up a three-year plan to remove Huawei equipment from 5G telephone networks.
Currently, it appears that 5G networks are not yet deployed on the Isle of Man although there have been some trials by Manx Telecom and Sure (it isn’t clear to me whether the Sure equipment is still operating now). It’s worth noting that several years ago, the Manx Government talked about leading the world in this technology, but sadly, their action has not met their words.
Our island should stop the installation of Huawei equipment on the Isle of Man – before it is too embedded in our island, and before the equipment has been widely deployed.
We should stop the installation for several key reasons:
a) the security of our infrastructure is likely to be important factor in the future of work in the Isle of Man. We can imagine lawyers, bankers and other professional services needing absolutely secure communications tools to do their work in IOM in 2025, 2030, and beyond.
b) The content of communications in a relatively concentrated financial centre like the Isle of Man is likely to be of interest to a regime that wants to strictly control financial flows (like, hypothetically, the Chinese Government).
c) One of the strongest moral argument for an offshore financial services industry in Isle of Man is that it allows people to protect their property from regimes where the rule of law is not so strong.
d) The close relationship between Huawei and the Chinese Government creates a risk that Huawei-installed infrastructure could undermine (a) and (b) and (c).
e) Using equipment at risk of sanctions from key partners like the UK, USA and others seems risky and dangerous. For what benefit? So that Basalt Infrastructure Partners II LP (the private equity company that owns Manx Telecom) or Batelco (the Bahraini telecoms company that owns Sure) can save a little money on their network infrastructure? That does not seem like a good tradeoff to me.