UK's Prime Minister demands alternatives to Huawei from critics

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The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that security is paramount for the UK’s 5G networks but argued Huawei's critics must come up with an “alternative” provider.

Huawei has been effectively blocked from competing for further 5G infrastructure contracts in the US and Australia, in the wake of allegations from the US government about the security of the vendor’s equipment – Huawei has strongly denied all accusations.

Johnson is expected to decide on whether to allow Huawei in non-core areas of 5G networks later this month.

Gigabit Britain

Johnson told the TV programme BBC Breakfast yesterday, “The British public deserve to have access to the best possible technology. We want to put in gigabit broadband for everybody. Now if people oppose one brand or another then they have to tell us what’s the alternative.”

He added: “On the other hand, let’s be clear, I don’t want, as the UK Prime Minister, to put in any infrastructure that is going to prejudice our national security or our ability to cooperate with Five Eyes intelligence partners.”

The head of the UK's Security Service MI5, Andrew Parker, reportedly said that he has “no reason to think” that using Huawei technology should threaten intelligence-sharing with the US.

Earlier this week, in support of the Trump Adminstration's ongoing campaign to pressure other governments to ban the use of Huawei eqipment in 5G networks, a delegation from Washington flew into the UK to present British ministers with new technical evidence, according to the Financial Times [subscripton needed].

They reportedly told UK officials that allowing Huawei technology would be “nothing short of madness”.

Global pattern

Opting for a multi-vendor 5G strategy is a growing trend among European operators.

Last year, KPN signed an agreement with Huawei to upgrade its mobile radio and antenna network (RAN) but said it will select a “Western vendor” for the core 5G network.

Telefónica Spain will use Huawei equipment in the core of its 5G network in Spain, alongside a second supplier to be confirmed soon.

At the end of last year, Deutsche Telekom froze all 5G deals with vendors, awaiting a decision about the use of Huawei in its networks.