An investigation by 60 minutes aired Sunday night raised speculation about Huawei, a global Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer doing business in Dodge City, that may pose a threat to national and corporate security.
Mike Laskowsky, wireless network manager for United Wireless Communications Inc., and company general manager Craig Mock were interviewed in August by 60 Minutes, but were unaware of the story's focus or what brought the film crew to town.
"We're not sure what angle they're taking, but they asked a lot of questions about how we ensure our systems are secure," Laskowsky told the Globe following his interview. "We hope, if nothing else, this will showcase Dodge City in a positive light.”
Prior to the show's broadcast, Laskowsky speculated the program was interested in the China angle as it relates to security, he couldn't have been more correct.
“We have gotten a lot of fallout from the show,” Laskowsky said. “The story is slanted one way.”
United Wireless, a local Internet and phone service provider covering all of southwest Kansas, began the process of upgrading its system to provide 4G LTE service about 18 months ago. When shopping for the equipment needed to make the upgrade, they discovered that there was no American manufacturer providing the systems.
“We looked into issues with Huawei, including that the equipment would be from China,” Laskowsky said. “The show hinted at this, but there is not one vendor with equipment made in the U.S.”
Laskowsky said the ultimate decision in working with Huawei came down to functionality.
“We selected them after talking with multiple companies and vendors and they were the best fit for what we wanted to do. At the time of the decision, they were able to do things no one else could.”
"We're one of the biggest rural carriers implementing LTE in the country, and this equipment helps up provide the best coverage in southwest Kansas," Laskowsky said in Aug. After having worked with Huawei closely for several months, Laskowsky told the Globe he was impressed with the company's security procedures.
"If a Huawei employee comes to work with us, they have to use a laptop provided by us and they do a lot to keep our system secure. If there's a threat, it could be on anybody's equipment and if China wanted to create a problem, they wouldn't use Huawei," he said.
According to a report by CBS, the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence believes allowing Huawei to build and maintain large swaths of America's telecommunications infrastructure opens a door for the Chinese government to spy on the U.S. government and engage in industrial espionage.
Members of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have been investigating the company, which is the world's largest maker of telecommunications equipment, for the past year.
Page 2 of 2 - Laskowsky emphasized the amount of time and money United Wireless spends on security for data networks and firewalls. He said his company does everything in it's power to keep the network secure.
United Wireless is currently testing additional Huawei equipment and planning to switch over to new systems sometime in October.