New Zealand’s government turned down operator Spark’s bid to deploy Huawei infrastructure in a 5G network, citing significant national security risks.

The decision means Spark cannot implement a proposal to use Huawei RAN kit in the next-generation network. The country’s Telecoms Interception Capability and Security Act requires operators to notify the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of their planned approach to 5G deployments.

In a statement, Spark said it had not reviewed the reasoning behind the decision, but will consider its next steps following such an assessment: “While we are disappointed with this decision, we are confident the decision will not affect our plans to launch Spark’s 5G network by 1 July 2020, subject to the necessary spectrum being made available by the New Zealand government.”

GCSB director general Andrew Hampton noted that as there is an ongoing regulatory process, he couldn’t comment further.

Huawei issued a statement saying: “We are looking into the situation. As the GCSB has noted, this is an ongoing process. We will actively address any concerns and work together to find a way forward.”

The operator last week started the countdown to a 5G launch by opening what it said is the country’s first interactive 5G test lab.

Rising pressure
New Zealand’s decision is the latest blow to Huawei’s efforts to sell 5G equipment in developed markets.

US politicians last month pressed Canada’s government to implement a ban on the vendor, while Germany’s government is considering following the US and Australia by blocking China-based companies from 5G deployments..

China’s foreign ministry last week called for a fair commercial environment for its companies.