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Huawei The Lads – Clandestine Chinese Tech Co Gets Partial 5G OK

Huawei will be involved in the UK's 5G network – but the government intends to restrict that involvement to 'non-core activities'
28 January 2020 | Updated 29 January 2020
 

Restrictions should be placed on the use of high-risk 5G vendors such as Huawei – but that doesn't exclude the Chinese Government owned firm from being involved. This is the conclusion of the UK government's Telecoms Supply Chain Review.

Is it safe? That is the question that has been plaguing politicians, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the National Security Council (NSC) – and those that are to develop and benefit from the introduction of 5G – the technology that will enhance mobile phone internet connectivity but also open the gateway to the Internet of Everything and Enhanced Reality – just two aspects that are of interest to the FM industry attempting to harness them to improve maintenance.

5G (and the gigabit-capable networks it delivers) means any piece of machinery can send information on its status far more conveniently than at present; while the technology also allows fast and reliable internet access for engineers wearing enhanced reality headsets that allow them to receive information (including video) on how to carry out maintenance jobs they may not be so familiar with.

The concern of many is the involvement of Huawei will provide a fundamental security and information risk – and of course, the hand over an ability to take the network down at will.

The Rt Hon Baroness Nicky Morgan from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (on January 28) said the Government's new plans to safeguard the country’s telecoms network would mean high risk vendors would be excluded from sensitive ‘core’ parts of 5G and gigabit-capable networks and a 35 per cent cap will be placed on high risk vendor access to non-sensitive parts of the network.  Morgan's fellow Ministers have agreed - though many backbenchers remain sceptical of the practicalities.

 

Guidance

 

January 27 saw the Prime Minister chair a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), where it was agreed that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) should issue guidance to UK Telecoms operators on high risk vendors following the conclusions of the Telecoms Supply Chain Review.

This advice is that high risk vendors should be:

  • Excluded from all safety related and safety critical networks in Critical National Infrastructure.
  • Excluded from security critical ‘core’ functions of the sensitive part of the network.
  • Excluded from sensitive geographic locations, such as nuclear sites and military bases.
  • Limited to a minority presence of no more than 35 per cent in the periphery of the network, known as the access network, which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.

As part of the Review, the NCSC carried out a technical and security analysis that offers an assessment of what is needed to protect the UK’s digital infrastructure.

The government will now seek to legislate to put in place the powers necessary to implement this new telecoms security framework.

 

Range of threats

 

Baroness Nicky Morgan said: "The government is certain that these measures, taken together, will allow us to mitigate the potential risk posed by the supply chain and to combat the range of threats, whether cyber criminals, or state sponsored attacks."

 

"We want world-class connectivity as soon as possible but this must not be at the expense of our national security. High risk vendors never have been and never will be in our most sensitive networks."

– The Rt Hon Baroness Nicky Morgan

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

 

UK specific

 

Morgan continued: "The government has reviewed the supply chain for telecoms networks and concluded it is necessary to have tight restrictions on the presence of high risk vendors. This is a UK-specific solution for UK-specific reasons and the decision deals with the challenges we face right now. It not only paves the way for secure and resilient networks, with our sovereignty over data protected, it also builds on our strategy to develop a diversity of suppliers.

"We can now move forward and seize the huge opportunities of 21st century technology."

 

5G Rollout

 

Ciaran Martin, the Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, said: "This package will ensure that the UK has a very strong, practical and technically sound framework for digital security in the years ahead. The National Cyber Security Centre has issued advice to telecoms network operators to help with the industry rollout of 5G and full fibre networks in line with the government’s objectives.

 

Picture: Huawei will be involved in the UK's 5G network - but the government intends to restrict that involvement to 'non-core activities'.

 

To read Baroness Morgan’s Written Ministerial Statement to the House of Lords on UK Telecommunications - Click Here

 

The NCSC has published a number of documents:

A security analysis for the UK telecoms sector

A blog explaining the work that went into the analysis

An explanation of 5G

 

5G Innovation and Experience Centre

16 December 2019 saw  Huawei launch a 5G Innovation and Experience Centre in London to promote greater collaboration between businesses and innovators in the development of 5G ecosystems.

The Centre, a base for 5G knowledge and skill-sharing, aims to enhance 5G cooperation across the UK and showcase the real-life impact of 5G in the UK and around the world.

Visitors will be able to experience real-time and interactive gaming, perform with their favourite bands with the help of virtual and augmented reality and learn about the future possibilities made real by 5G technology.

Victor Zhang, Vice-President of Huawei, said: “With the opening of our 5G Innovation and Experience Centre in London we are taking another important step. What we have opened will enable collaboration amongst UK businesses and technologists and showcase the huge potential of 5G applications for both the private and business sectors.”

 

Carriers

Huawei’s Q3 2019 results reported more than 60 signed commercial contracts for 5G with leading global carriers, including all major operators in the UK.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 28 January 2020

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