Huawei to be given limited access to UK 5G network

News by Rene Millman

Leaked report says Chinese hardware vendor can supply "non-core" equipment

Huawei will be able to supply 5G equipment to telecoms companies in the UK but will be banned from supplying "core" areas of the next generation network, according to a leaked report.

In a report by BBC News, the UK government has  approved the supply of equipment by Huawei for UK 5G networks, despite security warnings.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the government's National Security Council on Tuesday. Reports in the Daily Telegraph said that Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to allow Huawei limited access to supply and build equipment such as antennas and other "non-core" infrastructure.

However, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, were said to have had concerns over the decision.

There have been fears that allowing Huawei such an important role in the UK’s network could leave the country open to spying. However, Huawei has denied that there would be any risk. 

The US has already banned Huawei and has put pressure on its allies to do likewise.

The decision came to light after it was leaked to the press this week. The leak itself has led to calls from ministers for a "full and proper" investigation into how the leak happened.

In a statement to the media, Huawei said that "this green light means that UK businesses and consumers will have access to the fastest and most reliable networks thanks to Huawei's cutting-edge technology."

"While we await a formal government announcement, we are pleased that the UK is continuing to take an evidence-based approach to its work and we will continue work cooperatively with the government and the industry."

According to Mark Graff, a cyber security expert based in the US, he was one of the first to "sound the alarm in the US intelligence community". He told SC Media UK that caution is needed. 

"Cyber experts should weigh in on the design to identify and possible way the equipment Huawei supplies could duplicate or divert the flow of information in a crisis. Despite China’s protestations I am convinced Huawei would respond to an urgent request for action by the Chinese government. In a cyber war, Huawei would not in my judgement be a neutral party if China was involved," he said.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Video and interviews