UK conducts new review of Huawei role in country’s 5G networks

Huawei 5G networks UK
Image Source

The UK government will conduct a new review into the role of Huawei in the country’s 5G networks and the effects of using its telecoms equipment.

The National Cyber Security Centre will be conducting a new review on the impact of using Huawei equpment in UK 5G networks. The decision was made following the announcement of new sanctions imposed by the US on the Chinese company over security fears.

The sanctions place a restriction on Huawei’s use of US technology and software to design its semiconductors. According to the US Department of Commerce, the Chinese firm flouted regulations implemented last year requiring it to obtain a license to export US items.

Huawei’s limited role in 5G

Despite pressure from calls for a total ban on Huawei equipment initiated by the US, the UK government decided to grant the Chinese tech company a limited role in building the country’s 5G network.

UK authorities decided to exclude from “security critical” areas of Britain’s networks but allow it to supply less sensitive products. These security critical areas refer to those that identify customers or make decisions about routing traffic.

ADVERTISEMENT

Despite the exclusion, Huawei will still be able to offer British mobile operators, including Vodafone, BT and Three, less sensitive products such as radio technology and base stations, as long as its market share is limited to 35%.

In response, Victor Zhang, a vice president at Huawei, mentioned that it was “definitely reassuring” that the tech firm would be able to continue working with its customers in the UK. Huawei started operations in the country in 2001.

In a statement, the company said: “While Vodafone UK does not use Huawei in its core — the intelligent part of the network — it will now analyze the potential impact of today’s decision on the non-core elements of its network.”

After the coronavirus pandemic

In April, Huawei asked the UK government not to disrupt the firm’s role in its 5G network after the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Huawei, any disruption to its involvement in the rollout of the 5G network would do UK “a disservice”.

Huawei wrote in an open letter to the UK government that it is also focusing on keeping people in the country connected amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the pandemic is expected to increase pressure on the government to take a tougher stand on the firm.

In the letter, Huawei’s vice-president Victor Zhang pointed out that home data usage in the country has surged by at least 50% since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, placing “significant pressure” on telecoms systems.

Zhang claims that the company has partnered with BT, Vodafone and EE to address this increase and has also set up three new warehouses around UK to ensure the supply of spare parts.

The new review

In lieu with the new review, a UK government spokesperson explained. “The security and resilience of our networks is of paramount importance.”

“Following the US announcement of additional sanctions against Huawei, the NCSC is looking carefully at any impact they could have to the UK’s networks,” the spokesperson said.

In response to the new review, Huawei vice-president Victor Zhang said: “Our priority remains to continue the rollout of a reliable and secure 5G networks across Britain.”

“We are happy to discuss with NCSC any concerns they may have and hope to continue the close working relationship we have enjoyed for the last 10 years,” Zhang added.

ADVERTISEMENT