Clearwire to use Huawei equipment in network upgrade
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wireless service provider Clearwire Corp CLWR.O said on Friday it will use equipment from China's Huawei HWT.UL in a high-speed network upgrade it starts in 2013, with the blessing of the U.S. government.
Clearwire said it reviewed its plans "with the technical arms of multiple federal agencies" and that it has "great respect for the U.S. government and their oversight role over the nation's infrastructure."
The decision follows a U.S. congressional report earlier this month that said Huawei network equipment should be kept out of the U.S. market as potential Chinese state influence could pose a security threat.
Clearwire's biggest shareholder and customer is Sprint Nextel (S.N), which provides telecom services to the U.S. government. Sprint, which is being taken over by Softbank Corp (9984.T), plans to use the Clearwire high-speed network to boost its capacity for its own service.
Clearwire, which already uses Huawei gear for its existing service, plans to use the Chinese vendor's technology to upgrade its network in markets where Huawei equipment is already in use, according to a statement attributed to Clearwire Chief Technology Officer John Saw.
He said Huawei represents less than 5 percent of Clearwire's total budget for the network upgrade to Long Term Evolution Technology and that the company is "materially reducing their footprint" for its LTE network.
The company said it will require all its vendors equipment and software to pass extensive testing by a third party company that is approved by the U.S. government to vet critical infrastructure systems for security weaknesses and threats.
Clearwire outlined plans for its network upgrade by the end of June 2013 on Thursday.
It named South Korea's Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), along with U.S. companies Cisco Systems (CSCO.O) and Ciena Corp CIEN.O as its other equipment vendors for the upgrade.
Sweden's Ericsson (ERICb.ST) will maintain the network.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Dan Grebler)