All eyes are set on the future of 5G and competition in telecom as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears set to give the go-ahead for Huawei to play a role in the development of Britain’s 5G wireless network, a move that risks jeopardizing intelligence-sharing between Britain and America, reports New Zealand-based Newsroom.
The United States warned the U.K. it could lose its position among the “Five Eyes” intelligence partners. The Five Eyes (FVEY) is a multilateral UKUSA intelligence agreement comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States for cooperation in intelligence.
While each government is responsible for the security of its nation, Five Eyes members are divided on their positions. Australia and the U.S. have restricted Huawei access due to international security concerns, but Canada and New Zealand are waiting for Britain’s lead before deciding theirs. (For more on the U.S. reaction, see top story.)
According to Newsroom, New Zealand might allow its home-based telecom Spark to use Huawei equipment on the fringes of its 5G network rollout later this year if Britain and Canada defy America’s demand to lock out the Chinese firm. Spark uses a “multi-vendor” strategy employing Ericsson and Cisco at the network core and Nokia at the edge. Should New Zealand allow Huawei access, Spark may also include Huawei gear at the edge of the 5G RAN rollout. “We expect that the security risks associated with 5G core networks will be very different to the security risks associated with 5G RAN network components and note the recent speculation that the United Kingdom government may recognize this distinction when it finalizes its policy on the use of offshore 5G vendors in UK networks,” said a Spark Spokeswoman.
To further petition for a full ban on Huawei, American officials visited Johnson last week. Johnson is due to make his decision this month. Newsroom reported comments by a U.S. official stating it would be, “nothing less than madness to allow Huawei to get into next generation telecoms networks.”
Following the U.S. visit, Johnson reportedly commented in a BBC interview saying, “The British public deserve 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,” he said. “On the other hand, let’s be clear, I don’t want, as the UK Prime Minister, to put in any infrastructure that is going to prejudice our national security or our ability to cooperate with Five Eyes intelligence partners.”
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