The UK government set out plans to improve security standards across the telecoms sector to protect from cyber threats, but delayed an expected decision on whether Chinese vendor Huawei will be allowed to participate in 5G rollouts in the country.
In a statement, digital secretary Jeremy Wright laid out proposals for new legislation to enforce strong security requirements, as part of its Telecoms Supply Chain review, but said the government was not yet able to make a decision on Huawei’s fate.
The proposed legislation would be overseen by regulator Ofcom and the government, requiring operators to design and manage networks to meet new security standards, while also subject “to rigorous oversight as part of their procurement and contract management processes”.
The review was indeed also widely expected to shed some light on under fire vendor Huawei, which has been subject to global scrutiny over allegations that its equipment contains backdoors, potentially allowing the Chinese state to spy on other nations.
In May, the US also issued an export ban on the vendor, which ramped up the pressure on other nations, but has since indicated it will issue temporary licences as it eases its stance.
The UK has so far continued to use Huawei’s equipment, with major operators EE and Vodafone launching 5G networks in the country in recent months.
However, the vendor has been kept away from sensitive core elements of the infrastructure, following a decision in April by the country’s National Security Council.
The delay will no doubt frustrate UK MPs, which last week said the issue had to be resolved as “a matter of urgency” due to its affect on international relations.
In its statement, the government said it had looked at how to mitigate the risks from high risk vendors, and it continued “to consider its position”.
Wright also told the House of Commons that the implications of the US ban on companies from dealing with Huawei was not clear and it would be “wrong to make a decision”.
Huawei has maintained its innocence over the matter and VP Victor Zhang told the BBC it remained confident it could continue to support the UK’s operators in their 5G rollout, following the delay.
“The evidence shows excluding Huawei would cost the UK economy £7 billion and result in more expensive 5G networks, raising prices for anyone with a mobile device,” he said.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back