Under fire Huawei reportedly agreed to meet security demands in the UK as it looks to play a role in the buildout of next-generation 5G networks in the country, amid growing global concerns surrounding the company.
Huawei was put in the spotlight in the UK this week after BT said it was planning to remove the Chinese vendor’s equipment from EE’s core network within two years due to security concerns, in a move which cast doubt over its future in the country.
However, Financial Times reported Huawei may still have a major role to play in the UK’s 5G rollout after agreeing to meet the country’s security requirements. Citing two people familiar with the discussions, Huawei executives and senior officials from the UK’s GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) held a meeting and the equipment vendor agreed to a number of technical demands regarding its services, while also agreeing to write a formal letter to NCSC outlining an agreement to address security concerns.
Despite its reported commitment, Huawei is likely to still face a tough ride in the country and across Europe, following recent comments from Andrus Ansip, European Commission VP for the Digital Single Market, who said in a news conference that the EU should be worried about Huawei and other Chinese technology companies given the risk they potentially pose to the bloc, reported Reuters.
In Europe, Germany and the UK have been under pressure by intelligence chiefs to make their stance on Huawei clear, after the US, Australia and New Zealand issued bans on the Chinese vendor from supplying equipment to operators in the countries for 5G rollouts.
A UK oversight board which monitored and tested the company’s kit first raised concerns in July this year.
Indeed, Huawei’s reported decision to bow to UK pressure is a sign of the importance it is placing on the market, as it faces scrutiny in other Western countries. The UK government could also claim a major win in the fact that Huawei is willing to change its business practices to continue to operate in the market.
Speaking to the FT, IDC analyst John Delaney said Huawei was now the incumbent in the UK and “it clearly wants to stay there”.
Aside from the earlier core network agreement with EE, Huawei has 5G deals with a number of UK operators for Radio Access Network (RAN) kit such as base stations.
“It makes sense for them to at least pay lip service or to put in place tangible procedures to appease those concerns. They won’t want the contagion to spread to other countries,” noted Delaney.
The primary concerns about Huawei revolve around its links to the Chinese government.
Huawei also faced scrutiny this week after CFO Meng Wanzhou, daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada on suspicion of violating trade sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, while Japan is reportedly preparing new regulations to ban the company from bidding on government contracts.Subscribe to our daily newsletter