New Zealand telco barred from using Huawei's 5G gear

WELLINGTON • New Zealand's largest telecoms carrier Spark has said the country's intelligence agency had barred it from using equipment provided by China's Huawei in its 5G network as it posed "significant national security risks".

The move follows reports that the United States is urging its allies to exclude the Chinese telecoms giant from 5G roll-outs over cyber security fears.

Spark said in a statement yesterday that it was legally obliged to inform the Government Communications Security Bureau of its 5G plans. It said GCSB chief Andrew Hampton had raised concerns on the use of Huawei Radio Access Network (RAN) in the new network and declined the proposed roll-out.

"The director-general has informed Spark today that he considers Spark's proposal to use Huawei 5G equipment in Spark's planned 5G RAN would, if implemented, raise significant national security risks," Spark said. The firm called the decision "disappointing" and said it would decide its next action after examining the reasoning behind Mr Hampton's conclusion.

It still expected to complete its 5G network by July 2020.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed "deep concern" over the ban. "The Chinese government encourages Chinese enterprises to follow market principles and international regulations, and develop overseas economic partnerships on the basis of abiding by local laws," he said.

"The economic and trade partnerships between China and New Zealand are mutually beneficial. We hope that New Zealand will offer a level playing field for Chinese enterprises operating in New Zealand, and do more to benefit mutual trust and partnerships."

Huawei - one of the world's largest telecommunication equipment and services providers - has been under scrutiny in some countries, including the US and Australia, over its alleged close links to the Beijing authorities. China has long disputed accusations of security risks and the firm's links to state intelligence services.

New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the US, Britain and Australia.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline New Zealand telco barred from using Huawei's 5G gear. Subscribe