Huawei gets limited role in UK’s 5G network

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Victor Zhang, vice-president of Huawei.
Victor Zhang, vice-president of Huawei.

Huawei will be allowed to play a limited role in the UK's 5G network, its government has confirmed.

According to Sky News, the agreement says:

  • Huawei will be excluded from all safety-related and safety-critical networks.
  • Huawei will be excluded from sensitive geographic locations such as nuclear sites and military bases.
  • Huawei will have a 35% cap in periphery (non-sensitive parts) of the 5G network.

Responding to the latest development, Victor Zhang, vice-president of Huawei, says: “Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G rollout on track.”

He points out this “evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market.

“We have supplied cutting-edge technology to telecoms operators in the UK for more than 15 years. We will build on this strong track record, supporting our customers as they invest in their 5G networks, boosting economic growth and helping the UK continue to compete globally.

“We agree a diverse vendor market and fair competition are essential for network reliability and innovation, as well as ensuring consumers have access to the best possible technology,” Zhang says.

Sky News says opponents of the idea had feared that allowing the Chinese tech company to build the network would be handing control of infrastructure to Beijing.

There were also concerns that, with Huawei’s close links to the Chinese government, the equipment could be used for espionage, something the company has always denied.

The debate has caused tension with the US, which had warned prime minister Boris Johnson not to approve Huawei due to security worries.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo had described the choice facing the National Security Council as "momentous".

Huawei’s equipment in Britain’s mobile carriers at present is mainly found in the radio access network.

The Chinese telecommunications giant says UK carriers have consistently used multi-vendor strategies in their core, bearer and radio access networks.

It points out Huawei has been working with carriers there for the past 15 years, with a clear cyber security track record.

On 14 January, Zhang told media that Huawei was confident the UK government would make a decision based upon evidence, as opposed to unsubstantiated allegations.

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