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Leak says Huawei will supply 5G equipment to the U.K., but with a caveat

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Although the news has yet to be made official, leaks from within the U.K. government say Huawei will supply components to build the country’s 5G network. If this is officially confirmed, it will come after warnings of security risks regarding the inclusion of the company’s equipment in the 5G network. Seemingly as a compromise, the leak says officials will only approve the use of “non-core” Huawei hardware, rather than the essential components needed to route calls, or check device identification numbers.

The leak has been reported by The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K., and quotes anonymous sources inside the U.K’s National Security Council. The Huawei-run @HuaweiFacts Twitter account retweeted Reuters coverage of the story, claiming Prime Minister Theresa May has granted Huawei access to the U.K.’s 5G network. The U.S. has been warning against using Huawei telecoms equipment for several years, stating it may be a security threat. It has been putting pressure on on the U.K. to ban the equipment from its network.

However, while the leak states Huawei will be part of the U.K.’s 5G plan, the U.K.’s Digital Minister Margot James has tweeted that the final decision has yet to be made. “In spite of cabinet leaks to the contrary,” she wrote, “final decision yet to be made on managing threats to telecoms infrastructure.”

Political backlash to the leak has been swift online. Various members of Parliament have tweeted concerns over the possible decision. MP Jo Platt says it, “raises questions about the government’s interests and how they’ll secure networks,” while MP George Freeman said, “I fear this may prove to be a bad decision.” Freeman referenced Australia’s move to ban Huawei from its 5G networks.

Due to perceiving Huawei as a security threat, U.S. networks do not use Huawei infrastructure equipment, and the company’s smartphones including the latest P30 Pro, are not available to purchase. In a new and in-depth interview with CNN, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei spoke about the accusations.

“The U.S. says we are a threat to its national security; they should provide evidence,” he said, adding that, “As a company, we already made it clear to the world that we can sign no-spy agreements, and that we have not and will never implant backdoors.”

The U.K.’s official decision on Huawei’s involvement in 5G will come at the end of spring.

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