UK will allow Huawei to build 5G networks, but with key restrictions

UK will allow Huawei to build 5G networks, but with key restrictions
Digital sovereignty

The UK has announced that it will allow Huawei to develop certain elements of the nation’s 5G network, rejecting calls from US officials to ban the Chinese firm entirely, according to BBC News

However, the company’s participation will come with restrictions. Huawei will be prevented from working on certain sensitive, or “core” elements of the network. Huawei equipment won’t be allowed to make up more than 35 percent of network equipment and base stations, won’t carry more than 35 percent of network traffic, and won’t be allowed near military bases or nuclear sites.

“The government is certain that these measures, taken together, will allow us to mitigate the potential risk posed by the supply chain and to combat the range of threats, whether cyber criminals, or state sponsored attacks,” according to a statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

US officials had warned that Huawei’s participation could enable spying by the Chinese government, and cautioned that its involvement could limit information-sharing between the two allies. While they haven’t provided evidence for their claim, US officials point to a Chinese law that could be used to force Chinese companies to collaborate with the government. Huawei has denied the allegations. 

“Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G rollout on track,” Huawei UK chief Victor Zhang said in a statement. “It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market.”

“This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Sunday that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a “momentous” decision over Huawei, and some Conservative MPs have voiced support for US concerns. 

However, Huawei already plays a substantial role in the UK’s growing 5G network, and critics have pointed out that excluding Huawei would stall development, based on insufficient evidence. Johnson’s government has pledged to provide 5G to the entire UK by 2025, and the technology is considered crucial for new technologies like driverless vehicles and other smart devices. 

“We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security,” according to digital secretary Baroness Morgan. “High-risk vendors never have been and never will be in our most sensitive networks.”

Photo by Matti Blume [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

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