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UK officials reportedly set to recommend a limited role for Huawei in UK 5G

Ahead of his final decision on whether to block Huawei from involvement in the UK 5G network, the PM is being advised that he should allow it to have a presence in the RAN.

There has been no formal announcement, but Reuters was given a leak following a meeting of a bunch of UK officials and security experts. The long and short of it seems to be that the people charged with advising the government on its imminent final decision regarding Huawei have seen nothing to make them change their position.

Last summer the Science and Technology Committee concluded there was insufficient evidence of the claimed security threat posed by Huawei to justify banning it entirely.  For all the US lobbying that has taken place since then, it looks like no significant new evidence has been presented, hence the consistent advice.

The reported advice that the government only permit the use of Huawei gear in the radio access network and not the core somewhat contradicts that finding, however. Either Huawei is a security threat or it isn’t and if it’s not then what’s the problem with using its kit in the core? So these experts appear to be hedging their position, probably as a concession to political considerations.

So, in summary, the recommendation is to try a classic British fudge. Politically, that’s unlikely to be a success, however, as the US has repeatedly made its zero-tolerance for all things Chinese clear and and restriction is likely to draw the ire of said Chinese. This is ultimately a political, rather than a security or technological, decision. Whatever Boris Johnson decides, he’s going to upset a lot of powerful people, but the US is by far our most important ally and he may decide that consideration trumps the rest.

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