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Report: Huawei blacklisting could derail UK's digital plans

The U.K. is reportedly ready to risk hampering the rollout 4G and fiber networks domestically and trade backlash by China if the government finds Huawei a security threat and blacklists the Chinese company.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

The United Kingdom's digital future as well as economic wellbeing are at stake, depending on whether the government deems telecoms giant Huawei Technologies a cybersecurity threat and blacklists the company following an investigation.

U.K.'s The Independent reported Sunday the country could face a damaging multibillion-pound trade war with China if it finds the Huawei a cybersecurity threat given its purported links to the Chinese army and how its equipment could be used for cyberespionage by the Chinese government. The decision will be made after an intelligence report is submitted to Prime Minister David Cameron, likely before Christmas, it added.

Furthermore, any censure against Huawei could impact U.K.'s plans for 4G mobile Internet and fiber networks. An anonymous industry watcher told the news agency the costs would "considerable" to mobile companies and broadband providers if the Chinese telecoms company is blacklisted.

"The infrastructure would be hit if companies couldn't use Huawei technicians, as it is in constant need of repairs and upgrades. It would be a threat to digital Britain," the source said.

The report noted Huawei is supplying 4G technology for EE, the company that controls Orange and T-Mobile, and has signed similar deals with O2 and Three UK. On a regional level, the European Commission had earlier highlighted both Huawei and local rival ZTE now provide 25 percent of Europe's telecom gear, up from 2.5 percent in 2006.

The Chinese company had earlier announced intentions to invest 1.2 billion pounds (US$1.92 billion) in the U.K. to speed up its business growth.

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