The U.K. government expects to make a decision soon about whether to allow Chinese vendor Huawei’s equipment to be used in 5G networks deployed by U.K. carriers, Reuters reported, citing U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.
“The government will come to its position soon. We will get to a decision pretty soon,” Wallace reportedly said. “We will not allow anything to compromise our sensitive networks in the U.K. but our technical advice is that there are places we can go to mitigate any security risk.
“This is more than just technical – this is also about behavior. It wasn’t that long ago that the United Kingdom and other nations called out China publicly for some of its cyber activity. And if we are going to allow countries access to our markets, I think we should all expect a code of behavior which is fair play,” Wallace added.
Huawei is currently involved in the deployment of 5G networks in the U.K., according to a recent 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.
Local carriers are currently deploying solutions from Huawei in the “non-core” parts of their networks. However, the imminent government decision could impact carriers if the government bans the Chinese company from any participation in the deployment of 5G networks.
According to a previous 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 U.K.
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.
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 said 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.
Huawei is also being affected by a export ban imposed earlier this year by the U.S. government over security allegations. The restrictions are forcing U.S. firms willing to sell parts and components to Huawei to apply for special licenses to be approved by the Trump administration.
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