Sprint Nextel turned down bids from ZTE and Huawei Technologies because of U.S. government concerns over possible dangers to national security from the Chinese vendors building critical infrastructure in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Sprint, the nation’s third-largest mobile operator, rejected ZTE and Huawei’s bids to modernize its network even though they were lower than those of three rival companies, the Journal reported. The other bidders were Ericsson of Sweden, Samsung Electronics of South Korea and Alcatel-Lucent, which is based in Paris and incorporates the former U.S. telecom vendor Lucent.
Some U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern over letting Huawei or ZTE participate in major infrastructure projects in the U.S. because of concerns over possible links between those companies and the Chinese government and military. They have worried that the Chinese military could use equipment from the companies to disrupt U.S. communications. The Journal reported that U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke had called Sprint CEO Dan Hesse this week to voice concerns about possible deals between Sprint and the two companies, though not to ask him to reject the companies’ bids.
Sprint, Huawei and ZTE could not immediately be reached for comment.