New Zealand halts Huawei from 5G upgrade over security fears

Isaac Cain
November 30, 2018

Spark New Zealand recently notified the Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), in accordance with the requirements of the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013 (TICSA), of its proposed approach to implementing 5G technology on the Spark mobile network.

The country has blocked Huawei's bid to provide 5G technology for telecoms firm Spark New Zealand out of concern for national security, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

Huawei has been involved in other telecommunications systems in New Zealand such as its 4G mobile network, and is investing NZ$400 million ($271.9 million) into research and development.

"I have informed Spark that a significant network security risk was identified", Hampton said.

At Spark's annual general meeting on November 2, managing director Simon Moutter made an impassioned speech in support of Huawei, saying the company should be allowed to bid for 5G upgrade business unless the government could supply "incontrovertible proof" that the company was a security threat.

According to some analyst, this ban will have economic implications for New Zealand as China is its largest trading partner.

In a statement, Spark said the ruling meant it would not be able to use Huawei equipment.

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"We will actively address any concerns and work together to find a way forward", the Shenzhen-based company said in a statement on Wednesday. "As a leading global supplier of telecoms equipment, we remain committed to developing trusted and secure solutions for our customers". New Zealand is a member of the "Five Eyes" intelligence sharing arrangement with Australia, the UK, Canada and the US.

New Zealand's previous conservative government had a close relationship with China.

He said a risk to national security, through the telecommunications network, "relates to intervention in an unauthorized way".

Telecommunications services provider Spark New Zealand Ltd., which made the request, said November 28 that it would review the reasoning before considering any further steps.

Huawei powered New Zealand's 4G mobile network, and is investing NZD 400 million (approximately United States dollars 271.88 million) into research and development.

After Huawei was prohibited from rolling out 5G infrastructure in Australia the company denied it posed a risk to national security and said it had "securely delivered wireless technology in Australia for close to 15 years".

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