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The UK needs to make a call on Huawei and 5G soon

Chinese hacker in front of digital datastream flag

There is increasing speculation in the UK media about the likelihood of a government intervention over Huawei and 5G kit.

When New Zealand became the latest Western country to move against the inclusion of Huawei kit in its 5G network, the BBC was moved to publish a story headlined: Huawei: Why has UK not blocked Chinese firm’s 5G kit? The piece noted that three of the five countries comprising the ‘Five Eyes’ anglophone intelligence alliance are now actively blocking the use of Huawei kit and wondered how long it will be before the UK and Canada follow suit.

The FT wasn’t far behind, recently publishing an analysis piece entitled: Huawei under fire as politicians fret over 5G security, which featured commentary from people considered to be experts in this field. Among the extra concerns associated with 5G, as opposed to legacy network generations, are the scope, complexity and decentralisation of 5G. These not only make it more vulnerable, they stressed, but mean the consequences of malign interference in them more severe.

Light Reading extended those concerns to the whole of Europe, none of which has acted as decisively as the US and Australia to address the matter. Claiming Europe’s telcos fret as walls close in on Huawei, the publication reflected on reported pressure the US is putting on its allies to shut Huawei out of 5G and expressed concerns about the likely negative consequences this sort of thing may have on the development of the telecoms industry as a whole.

Lastly the Telegraph has been sniffing around Huawei’s accounts and found that Huawei’s UK revenues fell by 14% last year and profits declined by 10%. While the report stopped short of attributing these declines to security concerns it did infer that they can’t be helping much.

While the prospect of some kind of restriction still looms, UK operators can be forgiven for being hesitant to go all in on Huawei for their 5G network action. At the very least the UK government should make some kind of definitive statement on the matter so everyone knows where they stand, But very little we’ve seen from the current administration makes us optimistic that’s likely to happen.

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