Dish says Softbank poses national security threat

US satellite TV player Dish Network has stirred controversy in its bid to acquire mobile operator Sprint by accusing rival bidder, Japanese operator Softbank, of posing a threat to US national security.

Dish has gone to the extent of launching a nationwide campaign as well as setting up a website focusing on issues of national security, in a hope to convince authorities to support its own offer for the firm.

“As a member of NSTAC — the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee – Sprint joins providers like Verizon, AT&T and Level 3 in ensuring the country’s national telecommunications infrastructure is prepared, protected and secure in the event of a national security–impacting event,” Dish wrote on its recently launched website.

“Among the 30 telecommunications companies serving on the NSTAC, a foreign controlled Sprint would stand alone among the national carriers advising the President on critical national infrastructure issues.”

The satellite player added that SoftBank currently spends significant amounts with Chinese equipment manufacturers for its wireless network in Japan.

“As a result, there is a risk that critical parts of a future Sprint/SoftBank network in the United States could become dependent upon equipment from Chinese manufacturers — without the benefit of US ownership and control to mitigate any risks that the use of this equipment may create.” It added that China is the leading source of cyber breaches.

In response, Softbank has offered to appoint a security director, in a stock market filing. The new director would oversee public safety concerns related to Sprint’s operations and the US government would also be given a veto over who is nominated to the position.

The operator has also vowed not to use equipment supplied by kit vendor Huawei in the US. In October last year, the US House Intelligence Committee warned the nation’s operators not to trust Huawei or rival ZTE stating that it remained “unsatisfied with the level of cooperation and candour provided by each company.”


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