UK's 5G network operators seek clarification over Huawei

Cheryl Sanders
June 13, 2019

According to the BBC, a group of operators have penned a draft letter which could be finalised and sent to Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill as soon as this week, requesting an urgent meeting between industry leaders and the Government to share their concerns, as they hold off from investing in infrastructure while unanswered questions loom over Huawei.

Some countries like Australia and New Zealand, have blocked Huawei from supplying equipment for 5G telecommunication networks.

The US has also threatened to limit intelligence co-operation with any country that allows Huawei equipment to be used in its own networks.

Huawei has been the focus of mounting scrutiny amid accusations of having close ties to the Chinese state, with some critics arguing its telecoms equipment could be used to spy on people in the West.

In Monday's hearing, Suffolk was questioned in particular about the use of Huawei technology in Chinese detention centers in the western region of Xinjiang, where the U.S. claims up to 2 million Muslim-majority Uyghur may be held. "We have been clear throughout the process that all network operators will need to comply with the government's decision".

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Thursday allowed commercial-use 5G permits to four state-owned telecom giants to begin rolling out 5G solutions, signalling Beijing's decision to be the global leader in establishing superfast wireless networks.

China's ministries have issued licenses to China Broadcasting Network (CBN) and the China's top three telecom operators - China telecom (TC), China Mobile (CM) and China Unicom (CU).

The company insists that it poses no security threat to any of its customers.

"No one can put us under pressure", Suffolk reportedly said.

Senior executives from EE-owner BT, O2, Three and Vodafone also gave evidence to the committee, unanimously agreeing that they believe any risk can be managed in certain elements of their networks, while also warning that a ban on Huawei's 5G equipment in the United Kingdom could delay deployment by years.

Under the Chinese law, home-grown companies must support the state's intelligence work, which has raised fears of espionage.

The US government banned the use of Huawei technology in America's new networks and blacklisted the company so it can't trade without first obtaining express approval from the government.

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