Friday 28 June 2019 9:26 am

Nokia warns UK over use of Huawei 5G kit in swipe at rival

Telecoms firm Nokia has warned the UK against using equipment made by its Chinese rival Huawei, citing concerns about network security.

The Finnish firm said Huawei kit had security vulnerabilities that posed a risk to 5G networks and insisted rival vendors were more reliable.

Read more: Blanket bans ‘not the answer’ to Huawei question, report warns

Nokia’s chief technology officer Marcus Weldon said 5G would play a key role in national infrastructure, and urged the government to take the issue seriously.

“That means being wary of adding Chinese vendors into network infrastructure, as long as these security vulnerabilities are either probably there or likely to be there based on past practices,” he told the BBC.

Nokia is one of Huawei’s largest rivals, alongside Swedish firm Ericsson.

Weldon also said US restrictions on Huawei made up for unfair financial advantages the Chinese firm 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.”

US President Donald Trump has added Huawei to a trade blacklist, crippling the company’s ability to do business in the US.

The Trump administration has also put pressure on its allies to follow suit, and has warned intelligence-sharing agreements could be compromised if countries choose to cooperate with Huawei.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which is part of GCHQ, has previously warned that it can provide only “limited assurances” that the threat to national security posed by the Chinese tech firm can be mitigated.

“We read those reports and we think okay, we’re doing a much better job than they are,” Weldon said. 

“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.”

Weldon admitted Nokia did not face as much scrutiny in the UK as Huawei, but insisted his firm was subject to tests around the world.

Read more: Letting Huawei access the UK’s 5G network would be like ‘letting a kleptomaniac into your house’

The comments contrast with those made by rival Ericsson, which has warned the UK’s mooted approach of a partial ban on Huawei makes little technical sense.

Huawei declined to comment.