Saturday, 20 June 2020 10:24

UK telcos told to stock up on Huawei gear after US move: report Featured

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UK telcos told to stock up on Huawei gear after US move: report Pixabay

Security officials in the United Kingdom are reported to have told telecommunications companies in the country to stockpile gear made by Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies as American sanctions may prevent the Chinese company from keeping supplies flowing.

Reuters reported that it had seen a letter from senior officials at the National Cyber Security Centre addressed to telcos like BT and Vodafone asking them to be put by adequate spare parts inventory from all manufacturers.

But the letter also underlined the increased risk to Huawei gear and the company's ability to supply updates in future due to the new US sanctions.

“Ensuring that products and components are kept up-to-date is essential to maintaining the security of networks,” the letter said. “Escalating US action against Huawei may affect its ability to provide updates for products containing US technology.”

The UK announced in January it would allow Huawei to supply up to a third of equipment for non-core parts of its 5G networks but has more recently twice changed stance, once saying it would remove Huawei gear completely by 2023 and later saying it would block the use of such equipment after 2023. The change of stance came following US pressure as the Uk seeks to negotiate a trade deal with Washington.

In May 2019, Washington placed Huawei on its Entity List, a blacklist that prevented the company from buying products that have anything more than 25% American content.

But American firms that did not want to miss out on business with Huawei kept supplying the Chinese firm from their outlets outside the US. The only downside was that Huawei could not use the proprietary version of Google's Android mobile operating system.

Last month, the US Department of Commerce said it would make changes in its Foreign Direct Product Rule which prevents a company from buying goods that are produced using American technology or equipment, no matter whether the firm making them is American or not.

Strict imposition of this rule would make it impossible for Huawei to obtain chips from any firm that uses US equipment or technology – and most do.

Washington has campaigned for more than two years to try and push countries it considers allies to avoid using 5G equipment from Huawei in their networks. Thus far, only Australia and Vietnam have said openly that they would follow the American lead.

Japan, South Korea and Poland have indicated that they are likely to toe the US line, but have yet to make public pronouncements about what policy they would follow.

More recently, India, the UAE and Cambodia have said they would allow Huawei to participate in 5G trials. But New Delhi is likely to change its stance after its soldiers clashed with Chinese troops on the border on 15 June.

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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