Huawei launches 5G lab in South Korea, but keep the event low-key after the US ban

SEOUL (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies unveiled an open lab for the next generation 5G wireless network in South Korea on Thursday, but kept the launch low-key, given the recent blacklisting by the United States, a major security ally of the Asian country.

FILE PHOTO: A woman checks her phone as she walks past a Huawei store in Beijing, China-May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/Photo File

The Chinese tech giant, the world’s largest producer of telecommunications equipment, said the planned investment of $5 million in the lab in the Junggu district of Seoul. It is not more details about the location and not invite media to the launch.

“Based on the philosophy of “In Korea, and for Korea,” and the power of his own 5G network, Huawei will be the construction of a 5G ecosystem through collaboration with a number of South Korean ICT companies and especially small-and medium-sized enterprises,” Huawei’s Korea office said in a statement.

The event was however overshadowed by the US decision earlier this month to ban American tech and telecom companies to do business with Huawei. Washington is also urging its allies in the bar of the Chinese company of their 5G networks.

Huawei had initially considered inviting the press to the launch in South Korea, but after the U.S. ban decided to keep the event low-key, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

“Huawei wanted to promote the launch to get as many Korean small-and medium-sized enterprises as possible, but decided to keep the press after the ban to prevent any damage to its Korean partners in the event they are presented in the media,” the person said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Huawei said the head of the South Korean companies who participated in the event, but has no information about names, if any.

The movement underlines Huawei’s commitment to South Korea, where the purchases of components, such as chips and screens.

The AMERICAN campaign against Huawei, and the wider U.S.-China trade war, landed export-driven South Korea in a familiar bind, caught between its key security ally and trading partner.

The lab in South Korea is Huawei’s first open 5G services development center in the world that allows other companies to test their platforms, according to the company.

South Korea rolled out 5G services in April, in the hope that the next generation of wireless technology breakthrough in the field of autonomous cars.

Currently, Huawei provides the 5G network equipment for a small South Korean carrier LG Uplus. LG Uplus has said it does not plan to remove Huawei gear, but has promised to step up security checks.

The two largest carriers, SK Telecom, KT, do not use Huawei gear.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by with the ipad has Himani

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