Australian telecom giant Telstra Corporation Limited, in partnership with the Australian government, has begun talks with Caribbean mobile service provide Digicel for Australian $2 billion deal to buy mobile networks in Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.
China keen on Digicel
Jamaica-headquartered Digicel operates 3G and 4G mobile networks in the Pacific and is the largest mobile phone carrier in the region. However, the pandemic has dealt a severe blow to its operations and revenue. With it, there were media reports last year that Digicel was considering a sale of its Pacific business to CCP-owned China Mobile Ltd.
China has a detailed and deep 5G strategy in place for global rollout. However, fearing consequent threats to national security, several nations worldwide have banned Chinese telecom companies. Thus, the talks for the potential acquisition of Digicel had raised alarm bells in Australia, fearing a threat of Chinese spying.
Australia’s telecom counter-strategy
Australia has already initiated several steps to resist China’s telecom war. Australia has banned China’s telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. from participating in its 5G mobile network. Also, Australia has planned to lay undersea high-speed internet cable to the Solomon Islands to cut out Huawei from this island nation.
The reported offer by Telstra is thus the extension of this same Australian strategy, as 75% of the funding is supposed to come from the Australian government. The acquisition could not only provide Canberra with strategic security but also help get Australian business back into the Pacific. Considering the Chinese threat, the Australian government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison has begun supporting businesses investing in infrastructure in the Pacific.
The China-created pandemic has revealed China’s evil global intentions and predatory strategic plans. However, the more China bullies people, companies and nations, the more opposition they will face. The latest plans by Australia are a pointer to this fact.