Briefing: British telco BT blocks Huawei from core networks

Isaac Cain
December 7, 2018

BT has said it will not use Huawei's equipment within the heart of its 5G mobile network when it is rolled out in the UK.

British network provider BT has confirmed it will not consider bids from Chinese telecommunications company Huawei for 5G network contracts.

Telecom giant Huawei Technologies suffered a new setback in Britain as its equipment got frozen out for use in leading carrier BT Group PLC's core networks, even as the controversial company won a smaller victory with reaffirmation for its products from Portugal.

It added that Huawei would still be part of its secondary "5G Radio Access Network".

In a rare public speech on Sunday, the chief of the UK's foreign intelligence service MI6 also expressed his concerns over companies such as Huawei too.

Huawei denies having any ties to the Chinese government.

While the process to exclude Huawei from parts of the BT network may have started in 2016, the move is clearly a setback for the Chinese vendor and will raise questions about the network strategies that other Tier 1 operators are pursuing. "As BT noted, 'Huawei remains an important equipment provider and a valued innovation partner'".

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A spokesman said: "Huawei has been working with BT for nearly 15 years".

The British company also confirmed it is removing Huawei's hardware from use in its existing 3G and 4G networks, first revealed by theFinancial Times this morning.

Alex Younger, the head of United Kingdom intelligence, said earlier this week there are serious concerns with involving Huawei in the 5G network; BT is already limiting its exposure to the company just in case. "Working together, we have already completed a number of successful 5G trials across different sites in London, and we will continue to work with BT in the 5G era". This is sure to deal a major blow to the company, but I'm sure Huawei will find a way to bounce back as it has done previously.

The telecom giant Huawei's relations with the West have always been dogged by concerns that its remarkable economic success selling affordable consumer gadgetry has hidden a secret and darker mission as a hi-tech spying tool of Beijing.

"We need to decide the extent to which we are going to be comfortable with Chinese ownership of these technologies and these platforms in an environment where some of our allies have taken a quite definite position".

It concluded that HCSEC has "only limited assurance" that Huawei equipment poses no threat to national security.

The U.K. - along with Canada - is one of two nations in the Five Eyes security alliance not to ban Chinese telecoms firms from their 5G rollouts.

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