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Head of UK’s MI6 stuck between competitive and security concerns on Huawei

By Jules Wang February 18, 2019, 7:45 am

The chief of United Kingdom’s Secret Intelligence Service is weighing multiple concerns in contemplating whether Huawei equipment should be excluded from the nation’s 5G network build-out.

Alex Younger, attending the Munich Security Conference, told reporters in a rare public briefing that a decision about the telecom supplier isn’t purely an “in or out” affair.

“What I want is a proper conversation about this because it’s not inherently desirable that any piece of significant national infrastructure is provided from a monopoly supplier,” Younger said.

The MI6 leader also said he was not being pressured by ally nations in the Five Eyes intelligence exchange. The US has deemed Huawei equipment as a threat as it may be compelled to allow the Chinese government a “backdoor” through the encryption on its network equipment. Australia, having banned Huawei’s involvement in its 5G networks, purportedly found the company accessing a network featuring its equipment. Meanwhile, Canada is also struggling with a potential Huawei ban on its 5G network while New Zealand already has.

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BT stated in December that it would be excising Huawei equipment from its existing cellular network and not include new Huawei equipment for its 5G network.

Huawei has been putting on a charm offensive to many governments and has denied all charges of keeping security loopholes open. As carriers continue to roll-out 5G, Nokia may become the primary consideration for equipment tenders.

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