China Telecom to Install Cellular Network on Philippine Army Base

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Espionage is a top concern for some Philippine lawmakers after the country’s military recently announced its plans to allow China Telecom to install and manage a new cellular network on its army bases. Although the move is reported to address inadequate cellular coverage for the country’s 107 million people, it coincides with cybersecurity concerns related to Huawei Technologies.

The South China Morning Post reported the military confirmed it signed a preliminary agreement with Mislatel, a consortium controlled by Philippine tycoon Dennis Uy, to install communications facilities and towers at its camps. 

Uy, a close associate of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was awarded the country’s third telecom license last year despite having no telecommunications experience. His two holding companies have partnered with China Telecom, which owns 40 percent market share, the maximum allowed under Philippine law. The Philippines is a protectorate of the United States. 

The United States blacklisted Huawei in May over concerns that its equipment allows Chinese government access devices through security, “backdoors.” The U.S has been urging its allies, including the Philippine capital of Manila, not to use its gear.

As reported by the South China Morning Post, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said Mislatel, “guarantees that the devices, equipment, and/or structures installed at the site provided by [the military] shall not be used to obtain classified information.” Mislatel allegedly entered into similar agreements with domestic telecom companies Globe Telecom and PLDT in a measure to prevent electronic espionage.

Referring to the name of the new network, Uy said in a statement, “The roll-out of Dito’s towers is indeed one Herculean feat. We are nearer our goal of building a wide and robust network.”

December 19, 2019

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