Last month, the U.K. National Cyber Security Center reportedly said the country had tools to mitigate any risk from using Huawei’s technology in 5G networks
The U.K. government is working to impose strict new security regulations on telecom operators to prevent them using equipment from Chinese vendor Huawei across more than 50% of their networks, U.K. newspaper The Telegraph reported.
Telecoms industry sources told the publication that government officials are preparing to recommend a 50% cap on the proportion of equipment that can be supplied by the Chinese vendor. This new regulation would apply across Britain’s four mobile networks for core network equipment and radio equipment, including 5G networks, according to the report.
Sources with knowledge of the matter also revealed that the government is still in the process of defining the details of these new regulations.
According to the report, it is not yet clear if the government would apply these security restrictions retrospectively or if they would apply for new deployments.
Last month, the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) reportedly concluded that the country has the tools to mitigate the potential risk from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.
The conclusions by the British intelligence represented a serious blow to U.S. efforts to persuade its allies to ban the Chinese company from taking part in 5G contracts over national security allegations. One person familiar with the issue told the Financial Times that the British conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders, as the U.K. has access to sensitive U.S. intelligence via its membership of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network.
“Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their public and the US administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British,” the person said.
Robert Hannigan, former head of GCHQ, the U.K. signals intelligence agency, recently wrote in the Financial Times that NCSC had “never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei” and that any “assertions that any Chinese technology in any part of a 5G network represents an unacceptable risk are nonsense.”
The conclusions by U.K. intelligence seem not to be shared by Australia and New Zealand, also Five Eyes members, which last year banned or blocked telecoms providers from using Huawei equipment in 5G networks.
Last month, Politico reported that The Trump administration had an executive order in the works that would ban the use of equipment from Chinese vendors in U.S. telecom networks. That order was rumored to be likely to come before Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, but so far has not materialized.
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