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The UK will let Huawei provide “non-core” equipment in its 5G network

The decision puts the UK at odds with the US.
April 24, 2019
Pedestrians walk past an advertisement for Huawei
Pedestrians walk past an advertisement for HuaweiAssociated Press

The decision puts the UK at odds with the US, which banned government agencies from using Huawei equipment last August and has been pressuring its allies to follow suit ever since.

What’s happened: Prime Minister Theresa May gave the go-ahead for Huawei to help build the UK’s 5G network yesterday, The Telegraph reports. However, its role will be confined to supplying "non-core" equipment, such as antennas and base stations. The decision was agreed by a committee of senior ministers, but  at least five of the committee members were said to have raised objections.

A meaningless distinction? Last August, Australia concluded that it was not possible to manage the national security risks involved in letting Huawei equipment into its 5G network (an approach favored by the UK). In October, one of its spy chiefs, Mike Burgess, claimed that the difference between core and non-core technology becomes increasingly meaningless with 5G. He said this is because “sensitive functions” start to move outside the core to take advantage of the lower latencies that 5G offers. The UK has yet to explain the reasons behind its decision.

A reminder: Huawei has repeatedly denied that it would ever act on orders from the Chinese government. It claims it has been the victim of a witch hunt, fueled by the US’s fears that it is lagging behind China technologically.

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