The executive said that commercial 5G services in Canada will not be launched before the second half of 2020

Canadian carrier Telus expects to launch a request for proposal (RFP) to select its 5G vendor later this year, the company’s president and CEO Darren Entwistle, told a conference call with investors.

“Despite the increasing excitement for 5G, we do not expect 5G to be deployed commercially in Canada before the second half of 2020, as we await clear timing on the critically important 3.5 GHz spectrum auction,” the executive said.

He also highlighted that Telus is collaborating with the government to ensure the security of future 5G networks.

“Regarding 5G security, we continue to collaborate closely with the Canadian government and the Communication Security Establishment to uphold and enhance our innovative and secure approach to managing all of our network equipment for the benefit of our clients,” said Entwhistle. “Telus’s security framework involves a series of protocols that preclude Chinese equipment from the sensitive parts of our network — also known as our core — and limits the equipments used to the edge of our network [where]a less sensitive radio and antenna components reside,” he added.

“While there has been significant coverage about 5G security and Huawei internationally, much has included speculation and misinformation about the types of measures being implemented. I think it’s important to provide clarity. Of those U.K. and European telecoms that have announced limitations on Huawei, it is important to note that they are only rationalizing Huawei equipment within their core of their networks,” Entwistle said.

The executive also said that the global supply chains of internationally sourced equipment must include a 5G security routine for all suppliers.

“We will continue to work collaboratively and cohesively with the [Communications Security Establishment, Canada’s cryptologic agency] and the Canadian government, which are currently undertaking a comprehensive security review, the results of which are expected in the months ahead,” Entwhistle said.

He added that Telus is well-prepared for a number of scenarios and developments with respect to the eventual rollout of 5G infrastructure in the country.

“Depending on the scope of a government decision, including the potential supplier ban, we may see incremental non-recurring financial cost that we will manage adeptly,” Entwhistle said on the call. “It’s important to note that we would also risk diluting Canada’s global leadership and wireless network performance and excellence, owing to a concentrated supply chain if that eventuality comes to fruition.

“Nevertheless ,should the government restrict the use of Huawei completely in 5G networks, we will uphold our customers-first philosophy and work to ensure it does not impact the timing of when Telus brings 5G to market,” he said.

Telus has been working with Huawei in a number of 5G trials in Canada. In February last year, Huawei and Telus launched a 5G wireless-to-the-home (WttH) trial service using specially-designed 5G customer premise equipment (CPE) unit. The trial took place in downtown Vancouver’s “5G Living Lab,” a joint initiative between Huawei and Telus.

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