The UK government has approved the supply of equipment by Chinese firm Huawei for the country’s new 5G data, despite warnings of risks posed to national security. While there isn’t any formal confirmation, The Daily Telegraph reported Huawei will build “non-core” components, such as antennas.
However, the US wishes its allies in the “Five Eyes” – which includes the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – to exclude the company. Huawei has denied that its work poses any risk of reconnaissance or sabotage.
But, Australia have already sided with the USA over “serious concerns over Huawei’s obligations to the Chinese government and the danger that poses to the integrity of telecommunications networks in the US and elsewhere.”
A spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport stated it is currently summarising the supply of equipment for the new network and will report back in the near future.
“As part of our plans to provide world class digital connectivity, including 5G, we have conducted a review of the supply chain to ensure a diverse and secure supply base, now and into the future,” the spokeswoman stated. “This is a thorough review into a complex area and will report with its conclusions in due course.”
Digital minister Margot James responded to reports through Twitter, posting: “In spite of Cabinet leaks to the contrary, final decision yet to be made on managing threats to telecoms infrastructure.”
According to the Daily Telegraph report, Huawei would be allowed to help build the “non-core” infrastructure of the 5G network. This means that the firm would not supply equipment for the “core” parts, in which tasks such as checking device IDs and deciding how to route calls.
The company already supplies equipment for the UK’s existing mobile networks. It has denied numerous times that it is controlled by the Chinese government.
While it is currently awaiting a formal announcement, Huawei said it was “pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work,” and that it would continue to work accordingly with the government and the industry.
5G is the next generation of mobile internet connectivity, which promises faster data download and upload speeds, wider coverage and more strong connections.
The 5G network is also better at handling thousands of devices at the same time, including phones, video cameras, equipment sensors and smart street lights.
While current 4G mobile networks offer speeds of approximately 45Mbps (megabits per second) on average, experts say 5G could achieve browsing and downloads up to 20 times faster.
5G is already starting to roll out in the UK this year, and while it looks as though Huawei will be playing a part in it, it will be banned from involvement in the most sensitive areas of the network.
Allowing Huawei to build the UK's 5G network could expose the UK's critical national infrastructure to additional 'risk' and is causing serious concerns amongst many in the #FiveEyes intelligence community & Parliamentarians with oversight on cyber issues. Time for a rethink….?
— Mark Pritchard MP (@MPritchardUK) April 24, 2019
However, this hasn’t stopped many people in politics and in the intelligence communities, from becoming very concerned over Huawei’s involvement in the construction of the UK’s 5G network.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured PhotoCredit: BBC