Eurobites: UK Set to Approve Deployment of Huawei's 5G Gear

Ray Le Maistre
2/18/2019

In today's regional roundup: UK operators are set to get clearance to deploy Huawei gear in their 5G networks; the GSMA warns against supply chain disruption in Europe; UK mobile operators may be forced to share networks in rural areas; G+D boasts integrated mobile security chip; and more.

  • Some positive news for beleaguered Huawei Technologies: The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is set to publish a report saying it believes there are ways to "limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G ultra-fast networks" if the vendor's gear is deployed by British mobile operators, according to two sources with knowledge of the report cited by the Financial Times (subscription required). Reuters has published an article based on the FT story that provides the main points. Such a report from the NCSC would, at least, give UK operators a free hand at selecting whichever 5G technology suppliers they prefer, though BT, for example, has already made it clear it will not be using Huawei in its packet core or its long-haul optical transport network in the UK, but is planning to use the Chinese vendor's gear in its 5G radio access network. The NCSC has previously outlined some security challenges related to the deployment of Huawei technology. (See Huawei Poses Security Threat, Says UK Watchdog and Huawei Cut Out of BT's Mobile Core, Optical & Edge Plans.)

  • Meanwhile, the GSM Association (GSMA), the mobile industry body that represents the world's cellular network operators, has issued a statement warning against "actions that disrupt the equipment supply for the various segments of the network" and urging European governments and operators to work together to create a regional "assurance testing and certification regime" that could ensure "confidence in network security while maintaining competition in the supply of network equipment." It is notable that the GSMA does not mention or identify either Huawei or ZTE in its announcement, but for good reason: Such a regime would test technology from any and all suppliers, not just those from countries identified by the US administration and other influential parties as being a security risk. If such a regime was put in place, one would hope it would be open and transparent so that it would be made clear to all which suppliers were willing to put their technology under the microscope and also which technologies might be deemed not fit for deployment from a security perspective. But we all know that level of transparency would never be approved…

  • Back in the UK, the government has unveiled a new consultation that aims to ensure telcos meet their connectivity targets, reports our sister publication Telecoms.com. Included in the consultation is the matter of rural mobile connectivity and how operators might be forced to further open up their networks to rivals in order to provide decent coverage for consumers. For the full story, see Government to give Ofcom new stick swinging targets.

  • German firm Giesecke+Devrient Mobile Security has developed a technology that enables multiple security applications (mobile connectivity, mobile payment, transit and other security applications) to be embedded on a single security chip. The Munich-based vendor, known as G+D, will show off this development at the upcoming MWC 2019 jamboree in Barcelona. For all our MWC-related coverage before, during and after the show, check out our dedicated MWC news page.

    — Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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