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March 9, 2020
The UK government’s decision to allow Huawei to have a limited role in UK 5G networks is being queried by Parliament, which has opened a public inquiry.
“Concerns have been raised in Parliament, relevant industries, academia and by the press regarding the use of equipment in 5G networks that has been supplied by foreign companies, focussing on Chinese telecoms supplier Huawei,” said the announcement of the inquiry by the defence sub-committee.
“There are concerns about the security standards of Huawei equipment in general, the extent to which Chinese law could compel the company to assist the State’s intelligence services, coupled with broader ethical and ideological concerns about the growing global presence of Chinese technology companies.”
Not mentioned is our institutional fear of upsetting US President Trump too much, which is probably the underlying reason behind this move. Quite a few parliamentarians, including those in the governing Conservative party, have been wailing and gnashing their teeth at the decision not to ban Huawei entirely, despite our own experts advising that any risk can be managed. The inquiry is open for a month for interested parties to offer their ten cents.
Huawei was restrained in its response, but couldn’t help querying why yet another review of the 5G security situation was needed. “Over the last 18 months, the government and two parliamentary committees have conducted detailed assessments of the facts and concluded there is no reason to ban Huawei from supplying 5G equipment on cyber security grounds,” said Huawei VP Victor Zhang.
“We have been operating in Britain for nearly 20 years, and played a vital role in the development and delivery of 3G and 4G for people across the UK. Cyber security requires high and common standards across the telecoms industry, which Huawei has always supported. Creating a 5G Britain rightly requires scrutiny and we will work with the Select Committee to address their questions in the coming months.”
UK Parliament seems to be reserving the right to overrule UK experts and the government if enough people object to the decision. This is in keeping with a modern trend towards litigating governmental decisions if you don’t like them. Ultimately this is a political move, however, designed to create the impression to the Americans that we’re taking their constant moaning seriously. Expect that to reach a new pitch if this inquiry doesn’t result in the total ban the US is demanding.
As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno
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