The British government will allow Huawei Technologies to build part of its 5G network, despite warnings from Washington. 

 

Despite calls from the Trump administration for its allies to boycott the company due to security fears, the British government has given the Chinese telecom giant Huawei permission to build part of its next-generation 5G cellular network.   

Huawei will be allowed to build noncritical parts of the network after Britain’s National Security Council concluded that the security risks the Chinese company presented could be managed. 

Huawei has repeatedly denied claims by the US government that its equipment could be used by the Chinese state to spy on countries or incapacitate key infrastructure.

“Nothing in this review affects this country’s ability to share highly sensitive intelligence data over highly secure networks, both within the UK, and with our partners,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said publicly.

The decision is a blow to efforts by Washington to crack down on the use of Huawei products. Germany is expected to make a decision on whether or not to permit Huawei to build sections of its own 5G network this year. Canada has also yet to decide if it will block the controversial equipment maker.

In recent days, US President Donald Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had all warned UK officials as to what they perceive as the dangers of allowing telecom companies to use Huawei equipment.

Yet Huawei’s role in the UK’s 5G revolution will be limited: The country will ban the company’s equipment from centralized parts of infrastructure that routes data across the network, as well as sensitive locations such as near military and nuclear installations. Huawei will only be allowed to provide more peripheral equipment—such as base stations and antennae that connect the core to consumers’ devices—that is viewed as less of a security risk. 

Furthermore, the decision limits the market share of the Chinese company to 35% of the 5G network. 

“High-risk vendors have never been—and never will be—in our most sensitive networks,” said Ciaran Martin, the chief executive of Britain’s National Cyber Security Center.

Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said he was reassured by the British government’s decision. “This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future,” he said publicly.