UK officials propose granting Huawei a limited 5G network role

The UK will decide whether and how to deploy Huawei equipment in the country’s 5G telecoms networks at next week’s meeting of the UK’s National Security Council.

Ahead of the meeting, UK officials have formally recommended that Huawei be granted a “limited” role in the UK’s 5G networks.

Citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the situation, Reuters said that the recommendation was made at a meeting of senior government officials and security agencies on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson said, however, that work on the matter was “ongoing.”

“The work on the issue of high-risk vendors in 5G networks remains ongoing and when it is completed it will be announced to parliament,”

US officials have warned the UK that the use of Huawei equipment in any 5G rollout could put intelligence sharing between the two nations at risk.

The US believes that involvement by Huawei in telecoms networks poses a security risk, largely because of the company’s close ties to the Chinese government.

Johnson’s officials asked their U.S. counterparts earlier this month whether any alternative products were being developed by American companies, or anyone else, and were met with a resounding no.

Several key issues are weighing in favor of allowing Huawei to take a role in the less sensitive elements of the emerging 5G networks — though not in the most security critical “core.”

A senior Government official said Huawei has already been working within the British communications architecture for 15 years, and any risk is managed by the National Security Council

It would also cost billions to go with another supplier and significantly delay the rollout of super-fast mobile internet, they explained.

The 5G networks will build on these existing structures, so wireless networks can cope with soaring data traffic and enable connected cars and factories.

US Treasury secretary Stephen Mnuchin revealed he will come to London for last-ditch talks with Sajid Javid over the weekend to discuss “significant concerns” about the firm with the Chancellor.

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