Mobile Devices

UK won’t ban Huawei from 5G infrastructure deployment

29 January 2020

The U.K. government’s National Security Council (NSC) has agreed to allow “high-risk” vendors into non-critical areas of 5G infrastructure.

While the government did not officially name Huawei Technologies as a high-risk vendor, the assumption is that Huawei will be allowed in these non-critical areas. Last year, the U.S. added Huawei and its affiliates to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Entity List. The Trump Administration’s move effectively blacklisted U.S. companies from working with the Chinese equipment giant without having to pass several hurdles.

The executive order from the Trump Administration was issued because it believes that using equipment from Huawei may be a threat to national security due to the alleged ties the company has to the Chinese government. The Trump Administration believes that the equipment may be used to spy on consumers or national interests. The order also recommended that allies of the U.S. government should also blacklist Huawei, with Australia and New Zealand following suit. However, many European countries have not agreed and vowed to determine independently whether to use Huawei or not.

During a meeting of the NSC, the government agreed to exclude high-risk vendors from: All safety related and safety critical networks; from sensitive security critical core functions; and from sensitive geographic locations such as nuclear sites and military bases. It will allow these companies to participate in the access network, which connects no more than 35% of devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.

As part of the NSC review, guidance was established for operators to implement the government’s decision on how to mitigate the risks of using these vendors in 5G and gigabit-capable networks. The U.K. government will seek to legislate this at the earliest opportunity, putting a strategy in place to mitigate potential risks to the supply chain and to combat threats by cyber criminals or state sponsored attacks.

“We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security,” said Nicky Morgan, digital secretary of the NSC. “High risk vendors never have been and never will be in our most sensitive networks. The government has reviewed the supply chain for telecoms networks and concluded today it is necessary to have tight restrictions on the presence of high-risk vendors.”

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