New Zealand still hasn’t ruled out Huawei playing a role in its major internet network upgrade if unnamed risks raised by security agencies can be mitigated, with the prime minister saying the country won’t be swayed by Britain’s decision in the matter.
New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) last year had told telco Spark that gear from China’s Huawei, which was proposed for the rollout of its 5G network, posed an unspecified but “significant network security risk”.
Wellington said at the time that the ban was related to technology concerns rather than fears about Chinese government control, and Spark would have the opportunity to make changes to mitigate security risks.
Spark called the decision disappointing, but said it would not affect its plans to launch 5G by July 1, 2020.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated her government’s position that a process to see if the risks could be mitigated was still ongoing and that no final decision had yet been made.
“That’s exactly the situation we’re in right now,” she told TVNZ.
“The GCSB’s gone back and sought that mitigation. That is independent of us. And I do hold confidence in the process.”
Must read: United States unseals charges against Huawei and its CFO
New Zealand politicians and the GCSB have declined to publicly state what the suspected threat may be or how it may be mitigated.
This week, the Financial Times reported Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre had decided the security risks surrounding Hauwei’s technology were manageable and that the decision could carry signficant sway for other nations.
Ardern said New Zealand would be making its own decision.
“It is fair to say Five Eyes [intelligence network], of course, share information but we make our own independent decisions,” she told reporters.
Last week, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned central European nations that deploying equipment from Huawei “makes it more difficult for America to be present” in those countries.
“We have seen this all around the world; it also makes it more difficult for America to be present,” Pompeo said, after announcing plans for a defence cooperation agreement with Hungary including the purchase of mid-range air defence capabilities.
“If that equipment is collocated where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them.”
New Zealand policymakers have denied being pressured by Washington.
At the same time last week, CNN had reported BT consumer CEO Marc Allera saying it had seen no evidence of Huawei posing a threat to security.
“Over the years that we’ve worked with Huawei, we’ve not yet seen anything that gives us cause for concern,” Allera reportedly told CNN.
“We work closely with a large number of bodies, government, and security. We continue to work with all of those relevant bodies to answer all the questions that are being asked right now.”
Also: Huawei denies allegations contained in US Department of Justice indictments
This came despite BT in December saying it would strip Huawei equipment from mobile carrier EE’s 3G and 4G core networks and not use the Chinese technology giant for its 5G networks.
The telco at the time said it made the decision in order to bring EE in line with its legacy fixed network, which does not use Huawei technology.
“In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006,” a BT spokesperson said.
“As a result, Huawei have not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core.”
Huawei agreed that the decision was “a normal and expected activity, which we understand and fully support”, despite EE extending its 5G partnership with Huawei back in February 2018.
Earlier this month, Reuters reported Huawei saying it would take three to five years and a $2 billion investment to resolve the security issues found in a British report last year.
Australian banned Huawei from 5G deployments in August last year, citing national security issues stemming from concerns of foreign government interference in critical communications infrastructure.
Read: Huawei sacks employee arrested in Poland as Warsaw mulls EU ban
Huawei has repeatedly denied posing a risk, with its founder Ren Zhengfei saying in January his company would rather shut down than damage the interests of customers for its own gain.
“We will never do anything to harm the interests of our customers,” Ren said at the time.
The Huawei founder also reiterated the company’s line, from as far back as 2013, that it has never received a request from government to spy, and added that should a request be denied, it will be up to Beijing to litigate against the company.
“We will certainly say no to any such request,” Ren said.
“After writing this quote in your story, maybe 20 or 30 years down the road, if I am still alive, people will consider this quote and check my behaviour against it, as well as the behaviour of our company.”
US government warns allies about Huawei again
The US has told Hungary that America finds it ‘more difficult’ to partner with nations that have Huawei equipment deployed.
Huawei ban sees TPG end rollout of Australian mobile network
Australian telco says the lack of a clear upgrade path to 5G will see it end its network rollout.
Huawei warns bans will increase prices and put US behind in 5G race
Huawei’s Eric Xu told CNBC that blocking the company’s 5G networking products will increase prices and make it harder for the US to become No. 1 in 5G. However, it has been a huge benefit to the two Scandinavian suppliers: Ericsson and Nokia.
Huawei CFO cannot be trusted: Prosecutors
Huawei global CFO Meng Wanzhou is still fighting for bail during the wait for her extradition hearing, with prosecutors alleging she cannot be trusted while she cites health concerns.
2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat sells out completely
The latest announcement will come as no surprise to anyone who follows Dodge muscle cars. Most car guys and gals knew last summer when Dodge announced it would build the 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat for six months that every one of the units would be gobbled up. Some speculated that a six-month build window meant there would be lots of the vehicles made.
Production has been limited to 2000 units, and all 2000 of them have been spoken for. Reports indicate it took about three months for Dodge to fill every build slot it had available. Orders stopped in January 2021, but Dodge does say that there may be some dealer-allocated units left available for a limited time.
What that means is there may be some inventory available on dealer lots, but you can bet they will be massively marked up. The starting price for the 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat is $82,490, including the destination charge. The claim to fame for the Durango Hellcat is the supercharged 710 horsepower V-8 that makes 645 pound-feet of torque.
The SUV features all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It can reach 60 mph from a standstill in 3.5 seconds. It would make the ultimate tow vehicle with an 8700-pound towing capacity. Deliveries are expected to start this summer, and each buyer gets a free day of high-speed driving at the Bondurant High-Performance Driving School in Chandler, Arizona.
One bit of bad news has surfaced from Dodge head Tim Kuniskis on the Durango Hellcat returning for 2022. He stated that emissions regulations would prevent the V-8 from being packed into the Durango after the 2021 model year. Specifically, 2022 model year vehicles are held to new evaporative emission requirements the Hellcat doesn’t meet in that platform.
Paul Walker’s beautiful 1980 BMW M1 AHG heads to auction
Paul Walker was an incredibly popular actor that tragically died very early in his life. Walker left behind a daughter and other family members, along with an incredible collection of cars. The BMW M1 seen in the images here was part of the AE Performance collection chaired by Walker and Roger Rodas before being acquired in 2014 by the current owner.
The vehicle is chassis number WBS0000009430109 and reportedly came from the factory as a solid white vehicle. It received its BMW blue and red livery paint job as part of an AHG Studie treatment. Every car sent to AHG received a unique paint job of the customer’s choice by Hermann Altmiks, and each of them had “altmiks lackdesign” painted under the left rear tail light.
The package also included aerodynamic panels inspired by M1 racecars. Those components included a new front air dam, side skirts, and rear spoiler. The front bumper and surrounding fascia on the car did receive a repaint in 2016. The car has flared fenders and three-piece 16-inch BBS wheels shod with modern tires.
Ventilated disc brakes are at all four corners, and the car is essentially restored to like-new condition with standard suspension. The interior features black leather and checkered cloth on the doorbell inserts, headliner, and rear firewall. The car does have air conditioning, power seats, and a cassette player.
Power comes from an in-line-six cylinder engine with fuel injection and six individual throttle bodies. Cars tuned by AHG were upgraded to produce 350 horsepower, and the vehicle has a manual transmission. Currently, it’s up for auction at Bringatrailer with nine days to go. As of writing, the vehicle is bid up to $390,000. It’s a beautiful car, and with celebrity ownership in its past, odds are the price will go higher.
2021 Infiniti QX80 Review – Four-wheeled fratricide
Sometimes buying smart involves hoops and hurdles, and other times it’s as easy as two dealerships probably occupying the same lot. So goes it for the 2021 Infiniti QX80, the automaker’s biggest and burliest SUV, making its pitch for seven or eight seat excellence but finding Nissan may have stolen its thunder along the way.
The QX80 has road presence, not least because of its scale. A full 17.5 feet long and over 6.5 feet wide, it’s unapologetically huge, draped in chrome and riding – in Premium Select 4WD trim – on 22-inch forged dark aluminum-alloy wheels. For the 2021 model year the line-up kicks off at $69,050 (plus $1,395 destination) for the QX80 Luxe; Premium Select adds all-wheel drive among other things, and starts at $76,450.
Under the vast hood is Infiniti’s familiar 5.6-liter V8 engine. It now produces a hefty 400 horsepower and 413 lb-ft of torque, funneled to all four wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission and a two speed transfer case. It’ll tow up to 8,500 pounds, and do 0-60 mph in about six seconds.
You’ll want a straight road for that. Point the QX80 at the horizon and plant your right foot, and the beefy SUV hunkers down and surges forward. It doesn’t feel so much fast, as potent: I’ve never faced down a rhinoceros as it builds up to a gallop, but I suspect it’s a similar experience to the Infiniti’s acceleration.
At 5,706 pounds it weighs more than the average white rhino, however, and so corners are better taken at more sedate speeds. With the suspension dialed in at the soft end of the scale there’s no shortage of body roll if you try to hustle too rapidly, though the upshot is the sort of plush ride you used to have to drive a 70s Lincoln to achieve. Factor in “you only wanted to use one finger, right?” levels of power steering boost, and it’s clear this behemoth was made for cruising.
Within that niche, it does admirably. The V8 thrums in the background, but generally noise isolation keeps the irksome world outside at a long arm’s distance. Infiniti’s 7-speed slurs discreetly, but an eighth ratio for even quieter highway work wouldn’t go awry. Inside, meanwhile, there’s decent space for as many as eight, though usually Infiniti outfits the QX80 with seven seats. The second row is no compromise, with Premium Select spec getting captain’s chairs and a large center console between them.
The third row is a little smaller, but not so much that only the smallest kids need be slotted back there. Power adjustment helps balance their space with the trunk: there’s 16.6 cu-ft with all the seats up, 49.6 cu-ft with the third-row down, and a positively capacious 95.1 cu-ft with the third and second row down. The seats themselves are a little bulky, however, particularly the captain’s chairs.
Infiniti doesn’t stint on the leather, and there’s tri-zone climate control, heated – though not cooled – front seats, a power tailgate and power moonroof, remote start, and a heated steering wheel. A 360-degree camera, blind spot warnings and assistance, and lane departure warnings and detection are standard, too, as is Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Bose 13-speaker audio system. Adaptive cruise is standard, too.
That all looks good on a checklist, but the implementation leaves a lot to be desired. Infiniti’s InTouch Dual HD infotainment system looks dated and is frustrating to use. The graphics – particularly in the navigation system – are tired, even with a recent update, and the whole thing feels disjointed. Factor in the profusion of buttons on the steering wheel and center console, and it just doesn’t feel as modern and sophisticated as its rivals or, indeed, a SUV with a near-$80k sticker as tested.
Infiniti has a problem, then, and like in the best horror stories it’s coming from inside the house. Nissan’s Armada has always been the QX80’s more affordable sibling, and since the 2021 Armada revamp it’s no longer the value compromise but the sensible pick, period.
Exterior styling is subjective, but there’s no argument that Nissan’s upgrade to the Armada’s center console puts it leagues ahead of what the QX80 makes do with. A single 12.3-inch wide-aspect touchscreen handles the heavy-lifting, with a straightforward panel of knobs and buttons for the HVAC. It looks better, and feels faster and more intuitive than the Infiniti’s system, and the fact is that the rest of the cabin feels eight- or nine-tenths to what the QX80 offers in terms of materials and comfort.
A top-spec 2021 Armada Platinum 4×4 is $67,900 plus destination, however, or about $10k less than the starting price of this midrange 2021 QX80 Premium Select 4WD. Both share the same engine – and the same driving dynamics – and both are fairly thirsty, the Infiniti rated for 13 mpg in the city, 19 mpg on the highway, and 15 mpg combined. I got about that with my own mixed driving.
Perhaps there’s more cachet in putting a QX80 on your driveway than the Armada, but seldom has paying for a prestige badge resulted in such an obvious compromise. The new Armada has gone from nipping at Infiniti’s heels to overtaking it, and it’s tough to argue against the wise money getting spent on the Nissan.
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