UK looking closely at Huawei's use in 5G, minister says

Huawei would be allowed to supply equipment for the UK's 5G networks. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - The UK government is looking "very closely" at the use of Huawei Technologies' equipment in the country's telecommunications network, a minister said, after the Sunday Telegraph reported that the Chinese company faces a ban within months.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government in January said Huawei would be allowed to supply equipment for the UK's 5G networks, arguing the country needed diversity in its suppliers, and that any risks involved in using Chinese kit could be mitigated.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on June 30 that US sanctions on Huawei introduced in May were "designed to make 5G designed by Huawei very hard to do."

The Sunday Telegraph said Huawei now faces a UK ban within months, citing an intelligence report due to be presented to Johnson this week.

"When we came out with an interim report on this earlier in the year, there were a number of conditions that needed to be met and so I'm sure that the National Security Council will look at those conditions and make the right decision on this to make sure that we have both a very strong telecoms infrastructure and everyone can get a phone signal, but also that it is secure," Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday (July 5) in a Sky News interview.

"We have been looking very closely at this."

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper also said a report from the National Cybersecurity Centre has concluded that US sanctions mean Huawei will have to use untrusted technology because it's barred from relying on American intellectual property.

UK officials are drawing up plans to stop installing new Huawei equipment in as few as six months, and to speed up the removal of already-installed kit from the Chinese company, the newspaper said.

In an interview with Sky News on Monday (July 6), Culture Minister Oliver Dowden declined to comment on the report but said the UK decision was not "not fixed in stone".

"If the US impose sanctions which they have done, we believe that could have a significant impact on the reliability of Huawei equipment and whether we can use it safely," he said.

The British government said on Sunday in an emailed statement that the evaluation of Huawei is an ongoing process and "we will update further in due course."

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