UK government to use Huawei for 5G infrastructure, but with some restrictions

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

The ongoing saga between the United States and Huawei has seen the likes of Google suspend Android services to the Chinese firm’s mobile hardware, and the latest episode has seen the UK government feature in recent weeks.

To that end the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was weighing up any potential risks involved with allowing Huawei to provide 5G infrastructure for its networks. The Department came to a decision earlier today and has opted to allow firms like Huawei to provide infrastructure, with a few restrictions.

Prior to today’s decision, the United States had tried to sway the UK into taking a similar stance against the Chinese firm, but it appears as if those in Britain do not have the same fears with regard to Huawei’s 5G technology that those Stateside do.

“Ministers today determined that UK operators should put in place additional safeguards and exclude high risk vendors from parts of the telecoms network that are critical to security,” explained the Department in a statement.

“High risk vendors are those who pose greater security and resilience risks to UK telecoms networks,” it adds.

With four operators in the UK already using Huawei’s 5G infrastructure, this latest announcement comes as little surprise, especially as it is inline with what the government had stated last year in only limiting access to Huawei with regards to the country’s core components.

As for the aforementioned restrictions, the UK government has outlined the following when it comes to “high risk” vendors.

“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 connect devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.”

How the Trump administration will react to the announcement remains to be seen, but given past dealings with Huawei, it will likely be less than pleased.

The Chinese firm is quite the opposite though having heard the announcement, with VP Victor Zhang welcoming the decision.

“Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track. 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,” he said.

“We have supplied cutting-edge technology to telecoms operators in the UK for more than 15 years. We will build on this strong track record, supporting our customers as they invest in their 5G networks, boosting economic growth and helping the UK continue to compete globally,” added Zhang.

These are indeed interesting times for the UK, especially as the government starts to tackle its departure from the European Union. How this impacts the roll-out of 5G in the region, and whether there will be any fallout with the US, is still unclear for now.

Either way it looks like the UK is pressing forward with its 5G plans. regardless of what some of its allies think.

[Image – Photo by James Giddins on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.