Hibernia halts cable build with Huawei due to US-China cybersecurity issues

Company will decide whether to switch vendors in March
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Hibernia Networks has been forced to stop work on its trans-Atlantic submarine cable, Project Express, over cybersecurity issues due to its work with Huawei.

This latest development, reports Capacity Magazine, emerged after a number of large U.S. service providers said they would not be able to use the network over concerns that they would lose contracts with their federal government customers.

Under the terms of its agreement with the Chinese company, Hibernia contracted Huawei Marine to provide it with 4,600 km of fiber cable in addition to related transmission and amplification equipment.

Mike Saunders, VP of business development at Hibernia, told Capacity that the issue with Huawei will prevent Hibernia from beginning the buildout of the cable until Q4 2014.

"Basically, we have called a halt to all our work with Huawei," he said. "There could be further delays. We will know exactly where we are within the next two months." 

Saunders added that the company has begun looking at other submarine cable vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and TE Subcom, both of which have submitted initial tenders to the company. However, a final decision won't be made until the end of March during a company board meeting.

The service provider's delay is the latest development in an ongoing battle between the United States and China's major telecom vendors Huawei and ZTE.

U.S. lawmakers claim that China-based vendors such as Huawei pose a security threat to the United States because they could use their equipment to spy on government agencies. In November, the House Intelligence Committee launched an investigation into whether the two Chinese vendors pose a security threat.

Hibernia is not the only service provider that has faced pressure to discontinue work with Huawei, as cable operators are also feeling the heat over their work with the Chinese vendor.

As reported in FierceCable, three of the largest U.S.-based cable MSOs--Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), Suddenlink Communications and BendBroadband--and other smaller cable operators that deployed set-tops from the Chinese manufacturer, are also facing pressure to seek out an alternative vendor besides Huawei.

For more:
Capacity Magazine has this article (sub. req.)

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