UK Government to Allow Huawei Access to ‘Non-Core’ Parts of 5G Network Infrastructure

The UK government will allow Huawei limited access to its 5G network infrastructure, but not in areas important to national security.

A new press release (via The Guardian) states that the UK Government has decided to allow the Chinese tech giant to supply new high-speed network equipment, ignoring US government warnings that it would sever intelligence cooperation if it did not ban the company.

The government’s decision on Tuesday is the first by a major US ally in Europe, and follows intense lobbying from the Trump administration and China as the two vie for technological dominance.

The UK government said Huawei will have access to “non-core” parts of the country’s network but will be banned from “sensitive locations” such as military or nuclear sites.

Huawei’s overall share of UK’s 5G market will be capped at 35 percent. The cap will also “be kept under review to determine whether it should be further reduced as the market diversifies,” the government explained in the press release.

Even though the UK is allowing Huawei limited access, it still designated the firm a “high-risk vendor.” It seems there was little alternative other than to use the company—The Guardian writes that officials feared a ban would have delayed the 5G rollout by two to three years and affected economic growth. Beijing had warned of “substantial” repercussions to trade and investment plans had Huawei been banned outright.

“Our world-leading cyber-security experts know more about Huawei than any country in the world — and they are satisfied that with our tough approach and regulatory regime, any risks can be managed,” said a government source.

Back in April 2019, the US warned that it could cut intelligence ties with the UK if it used Huawei’s 5G tech. The announcement will likely strain ties between the Trump administration and Boris Johnson’s government.

The UK is one of the so-called “Five Eyes” countries, along with the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — an alliance whose members share many of their most sensitive intelligence secrets in an attempt to head off emerging threats.

The United States has reportedly been pressuring Canada and other allies not to use Huawei technology for critical infrastructure, arguing that it could be too risky when the Chinese state is engaged in spying.