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Growing security fears hobble global ambitions of Chinese tech giant Huawei

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While a Huawei executive faces possible U.S. charges over trade with Iran, the Chinese tech giant’s ambition to be a leader in next-generation telecoms is colliding with security worries abroad.

Australia and New Zealand have barred Huawei Technologies Ltd. as a supplier for fifth-generation networks. They joined the United States and Taiwan, which limit use of technology from the biggest global supplier of network switching gear. This week, Japan’s cybersecurity agency said Huawei and other vendors deemed risky will be off-limits for government purchases.

None has released evidence of wrongdoing by Huawei, which denies it is a risk and has operated a laboratory with Britain’s government since 2010 to conduct security examinations of its products. But the accusations, amid rising tension over Chinese technology ambitions and spying, threaten its ability to compete in a sensitive field as carriers prepare to invest billions of dollars.

“This is something that’s definitely concerning Huawei at this stage, because there is a political angle to it and a business angle,” said Nikhil Bhatra, a senior researcher for IDC, a consultancy.

China’s first global tech brand

Huawei is no ordinary electronics supplier. The company founded in 1987 by a former military engineer is China’s first global tech brand and a national champion at the head of an industry Beijing is promoting as part of efforts to transform this country into a technology creator. It has China’s biggest corporate research-and-development budget at $13 billion US  in 2017 — 10 per cent more than Apple Inc.’s — and foreign customers can draw on a multibillion-dollar line of credit from the official China Development Bank.

That puts Huawei at the heart of strains over the ruling Communist Party’s technology aspirations, competition with Western economies and ties between companies and government, including possibly spying.

A European Union official, Andrus Ansip, expressed concern that Chinese rules requiring telecom equipment suppliers to co-operate with intelligence services would involve possible “mandatory backdoors” in computer or telecom systems.

“Do we have to be worried about Huawei and other Chinese companies? Yes, I think we have to be worried,” said Ansip, the trade bloc’s vice-president for a digital single market.

A sales clerk looks at his smartphone in a Huawei store at a shopping mall in Beijing on July 4, 2018. Allowing Chinese firm Huawei Technologies to build Canada’s 5G wireless network could give Beijing backdoor access to revealing data about Canadians, security analysts warn. (Mark Schiefelbein/Canadian Press/Associated Press)

The company says it is employee-owned and operates independently. It denies it designs equipment to allow eavesdropping or that it is controlled by the Communist Party — a stance critics including some U.S. senators say is doubtful in China’s state-dominated system. The company notes it uses the same global components suppliers as Western manufacturers.

“Not a single shred of evidence against the company has ever been presented,” Huawei said in a written response to questions.

The company is the “most examined telecoms equipment vendor,” the statement said. It said foreign officials visit regularly to see “the lengths we go to assure them of the integrity of our technology.”

5G showdown

Huawei, headquartered on a leafy campus in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, has been working on 5G since 2009 and is one of the major suppliers of the technology, along with Sweden’s LM Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia Corp.

The company whose technology winds up being adopted stands to reap billions of dollars from sales and license fees.

5G promises more than just faster mobile phone service. It is designed to support vastly expanded networks of devices from internet-linked cars and medical equipment to factory robots and nuclear power plants. Annual sales of 5G network gear are forecast to reach $11 billion US by 2022, according to IHS Markit.

That makes it more politically sensitive, raises the potential cost of security failures and requires more trust in suppliers.

Even a “really minuscule” risk could disqualify a provider, said Andrew Kitson, head of technology industry research for Fitch Solutions.

But Kitson sees commercial motives behind the accusations against Huawei. He said many come from U.S. and European suppliers that are losing market share to Chinese rivals.

“There never has been any actual proof,” said Kitson. “They’ve only got to make a few insinuations for other governments to sit up and think, hang on, even if there is no proof, it is too much of a risk.”

Growing troubles

Huawei took a new hit on Dec. 1 when its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Vancouver on U.S. charges of lying to banks about transactions with Iran.

Huawei is more politically important than ZTE Corp., a Chinese rival that was nearly driven out of business after Washington blocked it from buying U.S. technology over exports to Iran and North Korea. U.S. President Donald Trump restored access after ZTE paid a $1 billion US fine, replaced its executives and hired U.S.-picked compliance officers.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, right, arrives at a parole office with a member of her private security detail in Vancouver on Dec. 12, 2018. (Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

That won’t work with Huawei, which is the “key to Beijing’s aspirations to lead globally” on 5G, Eurasia Group said in a report. It said Chinese leaders would see an attempt to impose ZTE-style controls as “tantamount to an open technology war.”

Huawei’s U.S. business evaporated after a 2012 congressional report labelled the company and ZTE security threats. The same year, Australia banned it from bidding on a national high-speed broadband network.

Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its territory and regularly threatens to attack, imposed curbs in 2013 on Huawei and other Chinese telecoms technology. Lawmakers are discussing expanding the controls.

Rising sales

Elsewhere, Huawei supplies phone carriers in Asia, Africa and Europe. The company says it serves 45 of the 50 biggest global telecom operators. Its 2017 global sales rose 16 per cent to $92.5 billion US while profits increased 28 per cent to $7.3 billion US.

Huawei accounted for 28 per cent of last year’s $32 billion US global sales of mobile network gear, according to IHS Markit. Ericsson was second with 27 per cent and Nokia had 23 per cent. ZTE, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Corp. and other vendors made up the rest.

Asked about the impact of security concerns on its 5G business, Huawei said this year’s total revenue — which also includes the No. 3 global smartphone brand and an enterprise unit — should exceed $100 billion US. That would be an 8 per cent gain over 2017.

Washington is pressing allies to shun Huawei, but Germany, France and Ireland say they have no plans to ban any 5G network suppliers.

Huawei “has an important place in France” and “its investments are welcome,” the country’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire, said Dec. 7, according to news reports.

The company has agreements to field test 5G equipment with Deutsche Telekom, Bell Canada, France’s Bouygues, Telecom Italia, India’s Bharti Airtel and carriers in Singapore, South Korea and Ireland.

China’s foreign ministry complained critics were “hyping so-called threats” to hamper Huawei’s business without evidence.

As for Ansip’s concern about eavesdropping, “we have no such law that authorizes” backdoors, said a spokesman, Lu Kang.

IDC’s Bhatra said excluding Huawei would leave countries with only two major 5G suppliers, Ericsson and Nokia. That would limit competition, raise prices and might slow innovation, he said.

Already, industry analysts say telecoms equipment costs more in the United States and other markets that lack lower-priced Chinese competitors.

“There are quite widespread implications,” said Bhatra.

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The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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