Monday, 22 June 2020 07:54

Huawei plan for £400m R&D centre in UK ruffles some feathers Featured

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Huawei plan for £400m R&D centre in UK ruffles some feathers Image by mlucero from Pixabay

A plan by Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies to build a £400 million (A$722 million) research and development centre close to Cambridge in the UK is causing some disquiet, The Times claims.

The centre is to be used for chip development and the site is in the village of Sawston, close to the offices of Japanese semiconductor maker ARM Holdings, the report says.

The site was bought in 2018 by Henk Koopmans, the chief executive of Huawei R&D in the UK. The South Cambridgeshire District Council will decide on the first phase on Thursday and has been told to approve Huawei's plan.

The British Government is in the midst of a review of its policy of granting Huawei permission to supply up to 35% of gear for the non-core parts of 5G networks in the UK.

That policy was announced by Boris Johnson's government in January this year. Prior to that four British telcos — Vodafone, O2, EE (a BT unit) and Three — had all rolled out 5G networks, and used Huawei gear in non-core parts of the network.

Spanish group Telefonica owns O2 and it has used Huawei’s infrastructure in some of its other networks. O2 has no wide use of Huawei in the UK, but has a network-sharing agreement with Vodafone.

The companies relied on interim advice from the government of Theresa May, leaked in April 2019, that this would be the government's final stance.

The Times quoted former first secretary of state Damian Green as saying: “Announcements like this R&D centre are clearly designed to influence the debate and they shouldn’t be allowed to influence it.

“The government calls Huawei a high-risk vendor and I want to see a path towards zero involvement from Huawei in the 5G network.”

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre is conducting another inquiry into Huawei's equipment after a push from the US Government and a number of Conservative MPs.

London has recently reportedly twice changed its stance, once saying it would remove Huawei gear completely by 2023 and later saying it would block the use of such equipment after 2023.

iTWire has contacted Huawei for comment.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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