New Zealand bans usage of Huawei 5G equipments

Isaac Cain
November 29, 2018

Reports emerging from New Zealand suggest local carrier Spark has been blocked from buying Huawei kit for its 5G rollout.

Huawei is a provider of network equipment to all of Europe's major mobile network providers, including companies such as Vodafone and BT in the UK.

Britain's cyber-security agency has warned that it still has "technical concerns" over Huawei following growing USA calls for its allies to block the controversial Chinese telecoms giant from rolling out its network technology, amid espionage fears.

Andrew Hampton, the director general of New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), confirmed its decision in a statement, saying: "I have informed Spark that a significant network security risk was identified", said Andrew Hampton, the director general of GCSB.

According to the New Zealand government, the ban is related to technology concerns rather than fears about Chinese government control, and it is giving Spark the chance to make changes to mitigate security risks.

Huawei New Zealand has denied any wrongdoing and says has had no contact from the government since yesterday's announcement that it has been blocked from participating in Spark's 5G build. He declined to specify the concerns, citing classified information.

Geng Shuang, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said of the Chinese government's relationship with New Zealand following the news, "The economic and trade cooperation between China and New Zealand is mutually beneficial in nature".

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Huawei has been developing New Zealand communication networks since the implementation of 4G, investing NZD400 million, or over $270 million.

"It's not about the country, it's not even particularly about the company; it is about the technology that is proposed".

Little emphasised that the relevant security legislation is "project-based". "With 5G technology, every component of the 5G network means every part of the network can be accessed".

Mr Little and intelligence officials have said that 5G networks have different security concerns to previous generations of mobile networks because it was hard to restrict vendors considered high risk to less sensitive parts of the network.

"As the GCSB has noted, this is an ongoing process", the company said in a statement.

"The importance of multiple vendors to deliver price competitiveness still stands, so if this announcement has a similar impact on 2degrees it will be a real disappointment for competition", 2degrees corporate affairs chief Mathew Bolland told Reuters.

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