BT and Vodafone are reportedly set to support Chinese telecoms firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G network.
The companies are preparing a letter to be sent to the Prime Minister to lobby him to support the move, saying a ban on Huawei could stunt the growth of the UK’s digital economy, Sky News reported.
BT chief executive and Vodafone boss Nick Read are planning to send the letter to Boris Johnson early next week. The letter will set out the priority of network security, but argue that a ban on Huawei’s involvement is not justified, the broadcaster reported, citing sources.
BT and Vodafone are the largest telecoms suppliers to Government and the public sector, and are heavily involved in critical national infrastructure.
The government is facing pressure from the US to prohibit Huawei from any involvement with the 5G communications network.
British and American security staff reportedly met in London this week to discuss the issue, and the US’s view is that it would be “nothing short of madness” to allow the Chinese firm to work on the project.
US security chiefs reportedly handed UK officials a dossier of evidence on Huawei’s alleged vulnerablities in an attempt to get Downing Street to block the company.
The Prime Minister has said he will not compromise national security of the UK’s intelligence sharing agreements with its allies, but said that it is important that the public can access the best quality. Johnson said critics of the telecoms firm should offer up alternatives.
On Wednesday, Tom Tugenhat, who is running for election as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, warned Johnson not to “let the fox into the hen house” by allowing Huawei to build the network.
Tugendhat said the telecoms firm is “integrally” part of the Chinese state, and could not be trusted.
Critics of the tech giant have claimed that its technology could be used for spying by authorities in Beijing. However, the firm has consistently denied the accusations.
The UK government has delayed its decision on the 5G network infrastructure by almost a year, however it is expected to announce its final verdict in the coming weeks.
Leaks from a national security meeting last year suggested Huawei could be allowed to participate in so-called non-core parts of the network.
More to follow