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Find a resolution on Huawei 5G, analysts urge government

Paul Lipscombe
January 22, 2020

Call for firm decision on vendor’s involvement in 5G networks follows fresh calls from US for boycott

Industry analysts have urged the government to find a resolution with respect to Huawei’s involvement in building 5G networks across the UK.

This follows comments made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to fresh calls by the US for the UK to boycott Huawei equipment.

Johnson questioned what the other options were after senior US officials said that allowing Huawei access to UK networks would be “nothing short of madness”.

“The British public deserves to have access to the best possible technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. Now if people oppose one brand or another then they have to tell us what’s the alternative.”

CCS Insight chief of research Ben Wood says the situation feels like “Groundhog Day”, with more clarification needed on how things are to progress.

Yes or no?

“I think the situation remains the same,” says Wood. “We really need a resolution from the government, with either a yes or no, and a definitive statement on what operators can or can’t do.

“If big companies such as BT and Vodafone feel happy that they can have Huawei equipment in networks, and feel that Huawei is complying with government requests, you have to assume the equipment is fine.”

IDC research analyst Raquel de Condado Marques agrees, and believes the UK networks could ultimately end up suffering the most from the uncertainty.

“It is a double-edged sword for the UK, because there are not many options other than Huawei available,” she says. “Both Ericsson and Nokia are probably a few years behind with their technology, and even with heavy investment would struggle to keep pace with Huawei.”


But Andrew Stark, cybersecurity director at managed IT services provider RedMosquito, is wary that moves by telecoms providers to meet tight 5G rollout targets may carry the potential risk of compromising security.

“The problem lies with the fact that the hardware concerned offers the ability to carry out deep packet inspection, which allows network data to be read and analysed for security purposes,” says Stark.

“Theoretically, there is a risk that a hardware provider could intercept this data and ‘spy’ on 5G communications.”

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