February 16, 2019

BT rejects Huawei's 5G network infrastructure bid in the UK

07 December 2018, 08:34 | Cameron Gross

BT will remove Huawei 4G equipment and excludes company from 5G bids

BT to remove Huawei hardware from 4G network amid fears of Chinese spying

The former telecoms monopoly has further confirmed a report in the Financial Times that it is also stripping out the Chinese giant's equipment from the core of its existing 3G and 4G networks amid security concerns.

The British firm, however, still plans to use the Chinese company's phone mast antennas and other products deemed not to be at the "core" of the service.

Why it's important: Governments are increasingly wary of Huawei's presence in their core national infrastructure, especially as they prepare for auctions for the next generation mobile network.

It has also emerged that Huawei's global chief financial officer was arrested between flights at Vancouver airport in Canada and faces extradition to the United States over unspecified charges. "Since it acquired EE in 2016, the BT Group has been actively bringing EE's legacy network architecture in line with this long-standing agreement", Huawei said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We're applying these same principles to our current RFP for 5G core infrastructure".

Last week, the New Zealand government excluded Huawei as a technology vendor for its 5G network, citing a "significant network security risk".

"As a result, Huawei have not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core", a spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

Huawei denies having any ties to the Chinese government beyond those of a law-abiding taxpayer.

Fellow members Australia and the USA have also banned Chinese tech firms Huawei - and ZTE in the US - from their 5G networks over fears it could make national infrastructure accessible to the Chinese government.

The FT said BT in 2005 became one of the first companies outside China to sign a landmark supply agreement with Huawei.

"Huawei have been a trusted partner for Altice for many years, and we look forward to explore this revolutional new technology together for the benefit of our consumer and enterprise customers, as well as a way to promote new business models and services", said Altice Portugal's chief executive Alexandre Fonseca.

A November Wall Street Journal report claimed that the USA called upon its close allies to avoid purchasing and using network equipment from the Chinese manufacturer.

Cybersecurity expert and IT veteran David Kay said the news gives him no reason to doubt the "skills and integrity" of Huawei professionals and has urged BT to release a thorough report justifying its decision.

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