Huawei Allowed to Partially Build the UK’s 5G Network

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The UK government has this afternoon announced that it will let Chinese tech giant, Huawei to build non-core elements of the country’s 5G network. Today’s announcement comes as other countries in Europe show similar steps. Donald Trump-led US had campaigned for ban on Huawei and had urged its allies to not use Huawei’s 5G tech citing security reasons.

UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it will keep high-risk vendors such as Huawei and ZTE(the latter has already banned from the UK) from building the most sensitive core parts of the networks. Huawei will be allowed to supply other gear such as Antennas and base stations. Huawei will be imposed a cap of 35% on their radio access components.

This advice is that high-risk vendors should be:



  • Excluded from all safety-related and safety-critical networks in Critical National Infrastructure
  • Excluded from security-critical ‘core’ functions, the sensitive part of the network
  • Excluded from sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases
  • Limited to a minority presence of no more than 35 per cent in the periphery of the network, known as the access network, which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts

Reassured

Victor Zhang, Huawei Vice-President said in a statement that the U.K. will let the company keep working with carriers on 5G.

“This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future,” he said, committing to build on Huawei’s more than 15 years supplying U.K. telecom operators.

Officials feared banning the provider could have delayed 5G rollout by two to three years, increased the cost to consumers – and dented economic growth.

What They Are Saying

“This solution appears a sensible compromise that gives the UK access to cutting-edge technology, whilst building in appropriate checks and balances around security.” said the Confederation of British Industry, the leading business lobby in the UK.

“We aim to keep any potential disruption to customers to a minimum,” said Vodafone Group Plc, which uses Huawei in its U.K. radio network

In matters 5G, other tech companies agree that Huawei’s 5G tech has made considerable progress. “Whether we like it or not, they are a year or two ahead, ” said Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser at a Davos panel. The company had tested gear from all the 5G equipment vendors and found Huawei had a technological edge.

Erik Ekudden, CTO Ericsson said that their company was far ahead of the competition when it comes to pure 5G technology. He added that the uncertainty over the rules of the 5G road have harmed business regardless of who’s winning the tech race on 5G.

Three out of four of the UK’s mobile networks had already decided to use and deploy Huawei’s 5G products in the periphery.

The EU will tomorrow publish its own guidelines which will give leeway to member states to restrict or ban Huawei without forcing them to do so.

“The U.K. model isn’t easily replicated. The approach we’ve come up with for the U.K. is specific to the U.K. context. Others shouldn’t assume they’re getting the same level of protection for modern networks if they do similar things without performing their own analysis,”  warned Ian Levy, technical director of the National Cyber Security Centre, in a blog published alongside the decision.

“This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now. It not only paves the way for secure and resilient networks, with our sovereignty over data protected, but it also builds on our strategy to develop a diversity of suppliers,” said Lady Morgan, the culture secretary who will confirm the decision in a statement to the House of Lords.

Backlash

Boris Johnson is likely to face a fierce backlash from the US, which has already blocked the involvement of the Chinese tech giant in its networks and had encouraged its allies to follow suit.

5G Alternatives

The UK is now left with Nokia(Finland), Ericsson(Sweden) and Samsung(South Korea) to supply the other 5G gear.

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