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UK could ban Huawei gear from 5G networks under pressure from US



Defended: Eir chief executive Carolan Lennon. PHOTO: CHRIS BELLEW/FENNELL

Defended: Eir chief executive Carolan Lennon. PHOTO: CHRIS BELLEW/FENNELL

Defended: Eir chief executive Carolan Lennon. PHOTO: CHRIS BELLEW/FENNELL

The British government could order the wholesale replacement of Huawei equipment powering its 5G phone networks just months after authorising telecom providers to use the Chinese firm as a major supplier.

Ireland's three mobile mast operators - Vodafone, Three and Eir - all use gear from rival Swedish supplier Ericsson in their core 5G networks being rolled out nationwide.

Eir, alone among the three, does use Huawei gear for non-core radio elements of its infrastructure.

Chief executive Carolan Lennon has defended using Huawei equipment, describing the Chinese firm as providers of "really top-quality kit".

The UK's 'Sunday Telegraph' reported yesterday that British officials are drawing up proposals to stop installing Huawei equipment within six months - and to remove equipment already installed in mast networks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government in January cleared Huawei to supply equipment for the UK's 5G networks, arguing the country needed diversity in supply.

The US administration has accused Huawei - a global leader in 5G technology - of supporting Chinese state spying. US President Donald Trump has publicly criticised Britain's stance.

Last week, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace said US sanctions on Huawei introduced in May were "designed to make 5G designed by Huawei very hard to do". The 'Sunday Telegraph' said Huawei now faces a UK ban within months, citing an intelligence report due to be presented to Mr Johnson this week.

Britain's health secretary, Matt Hancock, said yesterday that awarding Huawei a share of 5G business came with "conditions that had to be met".

"I'm sure that the National Security Council will look at those conditions and make the right decision on this to ensure that we have both a very strong telecoms infrastructure and everyone can get a phone signal - but also that it is secure," he said.

The 'Sunday Telegraph' said that a report from the UK National Cybersecurity Centre had concluded that US sanctions mean Huawei will have to use untrustworthy technology as it is barred from relying on American intellectual property.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Irish Independent