UK allows Huawei for 5G: Report

According to a report, Huawei will be allowed to provide antennas and non-core infrastructure for the 5G network build-outs across the United Kingdom.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The United Kingdom will allow Huawei to take part in its 5G network deployments despite national security warnings from the United States, according to a report.

British Prime Minister Theresa May greenlit Huawei's involvement, with the National Security Council permitting Huawei "limited access to help build parts of the network such as antennas and other 'non-core' infrastructure", The Telegraph said.

Read also: 5G, security and Huawei: Why the UK is taking a different approach

According to the report, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt had all expressed national security concerns about including Huawei as a vendor.

The Telegraph added that GCHQ head Jeremy Fleming will this week make a speech in Glasgow addressing the rising threat of cyber attacks.

In late March, the board overseeing the security of Huawei equipment used in UK networks said that technical issues with the Chinese company's engineering processes have led to new risks.

"Further significant technical issues have been identified in Huawei's engineering processes, leading to new risks in the UK telecommunications networks," said the annual report from the Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) Oversight Board. The board oversees the unit that evaluates the security of the Chinese company's products used in UK telecoms network.

The report warned: "Overall, the Oversight Board can only provide limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei's involvement in the UK's critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term."

However, it said it did not believe that the flaws it had found were due to Chinese state interference.

See also: Huawei will need 5 years and $2b to resolve UK security concerns: Report

The news that the UK is reportedly allowing Huawei to take part in 5G follows the Trump administration last month reportedly telling Germany that it will share less intelligence with German agencies if Chinese networking giant Huawei is allowed to provide any of the technology behind the nation's 5G mobile networks.

According to The Wall Street Journal, United States Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell told the German government in a letter that allowing Chinese vendor equipment across 5G networks would reduce US cooperation with intelligence agencies in Germany.

In early February, Reuters said German ministers had been meeting to discuss the possibility of a Huawei 5G ban after Chancellor Angela Merkel set conditions for the company's participation in new mobile networks.

The conditions reportedly require guarantees from the company that it would not hand over information to the Chinese government.

The meeting followed reports at the end of last year that the Five Eyes alliance -- between the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand -- was passing classified information on Chinese foreign interference to Germany, as well as Japan.

Last month, Germany's Federal Network Agency, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) published a set of security requirements for all mobile networks, which are set to appear in draft form during the Northern Hemisphere's spring.

"Systems may only be sourced from trustworthy suppliers whose compliance with national security regulations and provisions for the secrecy of telecommunications and for data protection is assured," the first requirement from BNetzA states.

"Network traffic must be regularly and constantly monitored for any abnormality and, if there is any cause for concern, appropriate protection measures must be taken."

Under the draft laws, equipment can only be used if it is regularly tested and certified by the Federal Office for Information Security.

In order to avoid European 5G bans similar to the one handed down by the Australian government last year, Huawei has offered to construct a cybersecurity hub in Poland "if authorities accept this as a trusted solution", Reuters reported Huawei Poland head Tonny Bao saying last month.

Huawei is also willing to accept European government supervision, Reuters said.

Accordingly, Huawei recently opened the "Cyber Security Transparency Centre" in Brussels, which aims to showcase its cybersecurity practices; facilitate cooperation on security standards and verification; and "provide a product security testing and verification platform and related services to Huawei customers".

Huawei is also awaiting the final word from the New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which in November handed down a draft decision saying the carrier could not use Chinese networking vendor Huawei's technology for deployment.

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