UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set for a major policy change as he prepares to phase out the use of Huawei Technologies equipment in their 5G telecom network, within the next 6 months.
UK’s National Cyber Security Centre concluded that the current sanctions against the Chinese telecom gear maker will result in the company’s use of untrusted technology resulting in security risks.
“If the U.S. imposes sanctions, which they have done, we believe that could have a significant impact on the reliability of Huawei equipment and when we can use it safely,” UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told Sky News when asked about the prospect of phasing out Huawei.
“If it’s appropriate to change policy, we’ll clearly make a statement to the House of Commons when we’ve been through that and made a decision.”
UK officials have reportedly started drafting proposals to halt the installation of new Huawei equipment in the 5G network and the removal of the technology that had already been installed.
In January this year, Johnson’s administration cleared Huawei to participate in building the UK’s 5G network subject to strict conditions including 35 per cent cap on its involvement and limited access to its sensitive geographical locations.
This was in contradiction to US Donald Trump’s administration which wanted Johnson to impose an outright ban on the tech giant, citing security concerns. Trump’s administration believed that Huawei’s gear could be vulnerable to infiltration by Chinese spies.
“We are considering the impact the U.S additional sanctions against Huawei could have on U.K. networks,” the British government said. “This is an ongoing process and we will update further in due course.”
The involvement of Huawei in building UK’s 5G network is believed to have resulted in tensions between the UK and the U.S.
The National Cyber Security has therefore concluded that the US sanctions on Huawei imposed in May 2019 has had a severe impact on the firm, and could leave a lot of security loopholes.
Huawei has repeatedly denied allegations that the company has close ties with the Chinese government and could be used to spy on other countries.
In a statement responding to UK’s position, Huawei said that it’s “open to discussions” with the government.
“We are working closely with our customers to find ways of managing the proposed U.S. restrictions so the U.K. can maintain its current lead in 5G,” Huawei Vice-President Victor Zhang said. “We believe it is too early to determine the impact of the proposed restrictions, which are not about security, but about market position.”.