Huawei gets limited role in UK 5G networks
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has granted China's Huawei a limited role in Britain's future 5G mobile network, a choice that risks damaging relations with the United States which fears China could use the company to steal Western secrets.
In the biggest test of his post-Brexit foreign policy to date, Johnson on Tuesday ruled that "high-risk vendors" would be excluded from the sensitive core of networks, and there would a 35 per cent cap on their involvement in the non-sensitive parts.
While the British government did not mention Huawei by name, a statement from its communications ministry said "high-risk vendors" would be excluded from all critical networks and sensitive locations such as nuclear sites and military bases.
"This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now," Communications Secretary Nicky Morgan said, following a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by Johnson.
The decision will dismay US President Donald Trump's administration which fears China could use Huawei to steal secrets and which has warned that if London gives the tech giant a role then it could scale back intelligence cooperation.
Huawei, though, was happy.
"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," said Victor Zhang, Vice-President, Huawei.
"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."
National Cyber Security Centre chief executive Ciaran Martin said the guidance would ensure the UK has a "very strong, practical and technically sound framework for digital security in the years ahead".
"High-risk vendors have never been - and never will be - in our most sensitive networks," he added.
"Taken together, these measures add up to a very strong framework for digital security."
Huawei, the world's biggest producer of telecoms equipment, says the US wants it blocked from Britain's 5G network because no US company can offer the same range of technology at a competitive price.
The US has argued that as 5G technology evolves, the distinction between the "edge" and "core" will blur as data is processed throughout the network, making it difficult to contain any security risks.
Huawei's equipment is already used by Britain's biggest telecoms companies such as BT and Vodafone, but it has been largely deployed at the "edge" of the network and excluded in the "core" where data is processed.
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