They're 'clean': SoftBank gets thumbs-up from Uncle Sam for keeping Chinese gear off its Japanese 5G network

Seal of approval handed out for supply chain security in various tech sectors

SoftBank's Japanese 5G network has been awarded "clean status" by the US government.

Introduced earlier this month by the State Department, the Clean Network programme is an attempt to protect American technological interests by limiting the usage of equipment and software from vendors perceived to have ties to unfriendly state adversaries. Critics argue it's a cynical attempt to sideline competition from Chinese tech companies in favour of US outfits.

In the case of SoftBank, this Clean Network badge has been awarded for excluding any kit made by China's homegrown vendors, including Huawei and ZTE, from its next generation network.

On the RAN Front, SoftBank uses kit from Ericsson and Nokia, with the latter providing its AirScale 5G hardware. In July, the Japanese telco selected Ericsson to provide the infrastructure required for the cloud-native 5G standalone core network.

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In a statement, SoftBank welcomed the news, saying it was "pleased to be recognized as a 5G Clean Telecommunications company by the US Department of State".

It added: "SoftBank Corp fully supports the Clean Network initiative of the US Department of State, and will endeavor to build out 5G Clean Networks that use secure equipment from trusted network vendors."

The US Clean Network programme encompasses five pillars touching on cloud, mobile, carrier, and cable supply chain security. Clean Cloud, for example, seeks to stop sensitive data being stored on servers provided by the likes of Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.

The Clean Apps and Clean Store principles prioritise removing "untrusted" apps from US app stores and urging American developers to refrain from publishing on platforms like the Huawei App Gallery. ®

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