UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ruled that Chinese telecom giant Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, will have a limited role in the country’s next generation 5G mobile network.
Ignoring pressure from the US to exclude the company over espionage fears, Johnson decided that “high-risk” vendors such as Huawei will be permitted into the “non-sensitive” parts of the network.
High-risk vendors will be excluded from the core of the network, which is where all the data is processed, and will be banned from all critical infrastructures.
They will only be allowed to supply up to 35% of the kit in the network’s periphery, also known as the edge – this includes radio masts.
Huawei, which has previously been linked to Chinese intelligence, will also be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites.
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Previously, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that the use of Huawei’s equipment posed a risk to security and the US would not be able to share information with nations that used the company’s kit in their “critical information systems”.
The White House and US state department have not responded to the announcement; however, it is unlikely the Trump administration will welcome the decision.
“This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now,” UK Communications Secretary Nicky Morgan said.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the decision will not impact the UK’s intelligence-sharing relationship with the US and other close allies.
Speaking in the House of Commons he said: “Nothing in this review affects this country’s ability to share highly-sensitive intelligence data over highly-secure networks both within the UK and our partners, including the Five Eyes.”
There has been speculation the decision to allow Huawei into the network would negatively impact the UK’s trade relationship with the US post-Brexit.
Welcoming the move, Victor Zhang, VP of Huawei, said: “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.”
The company’s technology is already being used by BT and Vodafone in the edge of their network.