BT blocks Huawei hardware from use in 5G network amid global security concerns

 
Alex Daniel
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Huawei has faced allegations that it could facilitate state espionage from Beijing (Source: Getty)

BT has barred Huawei’s equipment from being used in its core 5G mobile network when it goes online in the UK, the company has confirmed, amid security concerns.


The British company also confirmed it is removing Huawei’s hardware from use in its existing 3G and 4G networks, first revealed by the Financial Times this morning.

BT bought EE for £12.5bn in 2016, which used Huawei equipment in its core 3G and 4G mobile networks at the time, but has since been working on a programme to remove the hardware.

“In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006," a BT spokesperson said.

“We’re applying these same principles to our current RFP for 5G core infrastructure. As a result, Huawei have not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner.”


The revelations follow security concerns which were ramped up by a recent report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which alleged Huawei and other Chinese 5G equipment manufacturers could be vulnerable to state influence from Beijing.

The report said the Chinese government could force companies to make products perform below expectations, facilitate “state or corporate espionage” or compromise the confidentiality of networks using them.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have all moved to bar Huawei’s equipment from 5G networks, and the head of the UK’s secret service, Alex Younger, warned this week that the UK must decide whether to do the same.

City A.M. understands BT has not banned Huawei from its 5G operation as a whole, only from bidding for its 5G core network contract. Huawei will still be enabled on its 5G Radio Access Network.

City A.M. has approached Huawei for comment.