BANGKOK: Thailand launched a Huawei Technologies 5G test bed yesterday.
Huawei, the world’s top producer of telecoms equipment and second-biggest maker of smartphones, has been facing mounting international scrutiny amid fears China could use its equipment for espionage, a concern the company says is unfounded.
The 5G test bed in Thailand will be Huawei’s first in Southeast Asia.
Thailand’s co-operation with Huawei on the test bed does not mean it is not concerned about security issues, Minister of Digital Economy Pichet Durongkaveroj said at the launch.
“We keep a close watch on the allegations worldwide. However, this 5G test bed project is a testing period for the country,” Pichet added. “We can make observations which will be useful to either confirm or disconfirm the allegations.”
Pichet was speaking at the test site in Chonburi, the heart of the Thai military government’s $45 billion economic project – the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) – about 90km southeast of Bangkok.
Vendors like Nokia, Ericsson and Thai telecoms operators have also set up 5G labs at the site.
Huawei, which gets nearly half of its revenue from outside China, says it has secured more than 30 commercial 5G contracts globally. But it has not yet signed a 5G contract in Thailand.
Huawei is in talks with telecoms operators, such as Advanced Info Service and TRUE, to secure local partnerships ahead of a national roll-out scheduled for December 2020, industry sources said.
Asked if the US had reached out to Thailand about barring Huawei, Pichet said: “I have no knowledge of that”.
Huawei has repeatedly denied US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
“There is no evidence indicating that our equipment posed a security threat, no matter in Thailand or globally,” Huawei Thailand said in a statement.