Nokia backs away as CTO warns on Huawei - Mobile World Live

Nokia backs away as CTO warns on Huawei

28 JUN 2019

Nokia released a statement to distance itself from comments made by CTO Marcus Weldon, who told the BBC the UK should be wary of the use of Huawei equipment in network infrastructure.

Nokia said it noted statements made by Weldon in the interview regarding “the possible impact of the use of a competitor’s products on the security of UK telecom networks”, and they did not reflect the official position of Nokia.

“Nokia is focused on the integrity of its own products and services and does not have its own assessment of any potential vulnerabilities associated with its competitors,” the Finnish vendor said.

Safer bet
In an interview with the BBC, Weldon said Huawei’s equipment posed a risk to 5G networks in the UK and its equipment was a “safer bet” for mobile operators.

Huawei has been under intense scrutiny across the world over the security of its equipment, as a result of a US-government led campaign which alleges the Chinese vendor includes backdoors in its kit to spy for the Chinese state.

The UK has not placed a ban on the vendor. GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre, which monitors Huawei, has warned on potential security risks of equipment but has not found any evidence that justifies a ban.

Weldon, however, told the BBC he had read GCHQ’s reports and believes Nokia are “doing a much better job”, while warning that some of the Chinese vendor’s issues were serious.

“Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven’t patched things, they haven’t upgraded. But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don’t,” he added.

Weldon explained that Nokia wasn’t subject to the same checks as Huawei in the UK, but it still faced scrutiny in other markets.

With regards to the UK, Weldon said the government needed to take the Huawei issue very seriously, particularly for 5G.

Fairness in the market
In the controversial interview, Weldon also pointed to a report from US security firm Finite State which found Huawei devices “to be less secure than comparable devices from other vendors”.

Weldon noted recent scrutiny Huawei faced, particularly from the US, served to equal the playing field somewhat, because of a perceived unfair financial advantage Huawei had enjoyed in the past.

“It’s fairness returning to the market,” he said. “We were disadvantaged in the past relative to the practices that the Chinese were allowed to have in terms of funding mechanisms.”

In addition to the comments from Nokia, a Huawei spokesman said the comments were misleading.

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Kavit Majithia

Kavit joined Mobile World Live in May 2015 as Content Editor. He started his journalism career at the Press Association before joining Euromoney’s graduate scheme in April 2010. Read More >>

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