Feeds

Cisco lobbied telco customers to steer clear of Huawei

Marketing campaign painted Chinese firm as a threat

High performance access to file storage

Lawmakers aren't the only ones who have been pushing to block Chinese networking companies, including Huawei and ZTE, from bidding on US telecom contracts. According to The Washington Post, some of the strongest pressure has come from the Chinese firms' US-based competitors, in particular Cisco.

The networking giant has been lobbying its telecoms customers to shun Chinese vendors as far back as September 2011, the Post reports, citing a "remarkable" Cisco marketing document leaked by anonymous source.

Titled "Huawei & National Security," the seven-page document makes the case that the Chinese vendor is not to be trusted, and that its networking products could be used as tools of international espionage.

"Despite denials, Huawei has struggled to de-link itself from China's People's Liberation Army and the Chinese government," the document is quoted as saying.

At the time the document was distributed, Cisco was singing a somewhat different tune publicly. In a September 15, 2011 blog post, Keith Goodwin, then VP of Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization, wrote that "healthy competition makes [Cisco] stronger," calling out Huawei by name alongside other competing firms.

"Each of our competitors brings its strengths, innovations, and programs to address a variety of customer and partner needs," Goodwin wrote.

But during Cisco's November 2011 earnings call, CEO John Chambers revealed that the networking giant was much more willing to play hardball with the Chinese competition than Goodwin's comments suggested.

"We have to take on Huawei in China," Chambers told financial analysts during the call. "Huawei will always compete with us on price, and they will be our toughest competitor going out four to five years."

Noting that Huawei had recently launched a reseller channel program in the US, Chambers said Cisco planned to "make it hard on them" in its home market.

It's not unusual for rivals to talk tough, particularly in highly competitive markets such as networking. But in this case, it seems Cisco's brand of hardball went much further than competing on price, to include a marketing campaign designed to stoke fears that Chinese companies could threaten US security.

That's assuming the purported marketing document is genuine, of course. When contacted by The Register for comment, Cisco spokesman John Earnhardt would only reply, "We've asked for a copy of this [document] from the Post for authentication, so we don't have it to share. Sorry can't help right now."

During recent Congressional hearings, however, lawmakers used language very similar to that found in the leaked document to explain why doing business with Huawei and ZTE could be detrimental to US interests.

"Throughout the investigation, Huawei consistently denied having any links to the Chinese government," reads the US Congress House Intelligence Committee report, adding that many analysts continue to believe otherwise.

For its part, Huawei has denied being involved in any spying activities, saying, We have never damaged any nation or had the intent to steal any national intelligence, enterprise secrets or breach personal privacy and we will never support or tolerate such activities."

In a statement issued earlier this week, the Chinese firm accused the Congressional investigation of having "a predetermined outcome," saying, "We have to suspect that the only purpose of such a report is to impede competition and obstruct Chinese ICT companies from entering the US market."

Whether or not that's true, it's likely that the House Intelligence Committee findings will seriously impact Huawei's ability to expand its presence in the US – and no one, it seems, will be happier than Cisco. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.