Huawei Faces UK Government Review Of 5G Suppliers

Huawei Technologies at the Security China 2018 exhibition
The United Kingdom has started Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review which some executives believed was targeted against China’s Huawei Technologies Co.

(Photo: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

The United Kingdom has been conducting a review of its telecommunications industry to ensure the country's secure transition to the 5G network.

In July, the government distributed a letter to telecommunications companies informing them about the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review that will be held within a whole period of six months, concluding in Spring of 2019. The review is aimed at assuring the security and resilience of UK telecoms networks and services, and the quality, availability, and safety of telecoms equipment.

A copy of the review terms obtained by Business Times does not specify any targeted company suspected of insecure 5G equipment supplies.

The Wall Street Journal, however, reported that business executives believed that the review is intended to put pressure on China's Huawei Technologies Co. amid unfounded reports from the United States that the manufacturing company was involved in some spying activities.

The terms of reference that detailed the specifics of the government initially stated that assessment will include economic analysis to understand the supply chain and the incentives of buyers and vendors;  a technical analysis to understand network security risks and vulnerabilities, and future security requirements; sector intelligence to understand the approach taken by operators and vendors to ensure network security and resilience; and international engagement to understand the different approaches being taken by telecoms supply chain industry.

Those suspecting that the U.K. government's review of its telecommunications industry was particularly intended to target Huawei Technologies Co. could indicate that the telecommunications equipment services company remains to be the largest in the U.K., WSJ noted.

For one, Huawei's hardware and related services and products remained to be the top choice among U.K's biggest wireless and internet providers. Huawei also remained to be the largest supplier of telecommunications equipment for commercial internet in the country.

Although Huawei Technologies Co. was not singled out in the review, U.K.'s move bears similarity to a decision by the United States in the past where it effectively banned the Shenzhen-based telecommunications equipment services company. The ban was based on a congressional review which allegedly found that Huawei poses a national security threat. The U.S. review further alleged that Huawei may have equipment that could be used to spy or disable U.S. telecommunications network.

A similar move was also done by Australia, and Japan and Canada are reportedly considering to impose the same prohibitions against Huawei.

Speaking at the 20th Nikkei Global Management Forum in Tokyo being held this week, Huawei Deputy and Rotating Chairman Ken Hu hit back at security concerns raised by other nations against its role in developing 5G networks. He asserted that Huawei is taking the lead in introducing the next-generation telecommunication technology and this goal should not be "politicized" by those competing against the company.

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