Chinese vendor Huawei is currently involved in the deployment of 5G networks in the U.K., according to a report by U.K. paper The Observer.
According to the report, major U.K. carriers have built their 5G networks with the help from Huawei. The Chinese company is involved in building the 5G stations in six of the seven cities in the U.K. where Vodafone has launched its 5G service. It is also building “hundreds of 5G sites for EE” and already has won contracts with Three and O2.
Meanwhile, the U.K. government still needs to define whether the company represents a threat to the national security.
Local carriers are currently deploying solutions from Huawei in the “non-core” parts of their networks. However, this decision could represent an impact for the carriers if the government bans the Chinese company from any participation in the deployment of 5G networks.
China’s ambassador to the U.K., Liu Xiaoming, said that Huawei has no “back doors” and will not provide any information to the Chinese government if it is involved in the deployment of 5G networks in the country.
The diplomat made the comments in an interview with the BBC on Sunday.
“Huawei is a good company, it’s a leader on 5G, and I think that if you reject Huawei you would miss enormous opportunities,” Liu said.
According to a report by consultancy firm Assembly, a partial-to-full restriction on Huawei could result in an 18-to-24-month delay to the widespread availability of 5G in the UK.
In March, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported that the U.K. government was working to impose strict new security regulations on telecom operators to prevent them using equipment from Huawei across more than 50% of their networks.
Telecoms industry sources had told the publication that government officials are preparing to recommend a 50% cap on the proportion of equipment that can be supplied by the Chinese vendor. This new regulation would apply across Britain’s four mobile networks for core network equipment and radio equipment, including 5G networks.
According to the report, it is not yet clear if the government would apply these security restrictions retrospectively or if they would apply for new deployments.
The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) previously concluded that the country has the tools to mitigate the potential risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.
Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ, the U.K. signals intelligence agency, previously wrote in the Financial Times that NCSC had “never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei” and that any “assertions that any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represents an unacceptable risk are nonsense.”
The conclusions by U.K. intelligence seem not to be shared by Australia and New Zealand, which last year banned or blocked telecoms providers from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.
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