U.K. approves Huawei equipment for non-core network

Domestic News

The United Kingdom has approved the use of Huawei equipment for at least some parts of its 5G data network, in what the Financial Times calls a “snub” to the U.S. (paywall). The Trump administration had for months been calling on many countries, especially allies, to reject the use of Chinese telecom equipment, especially from Huawei.

  • This move by the U.K. had been rumored for over two months. See SupChina’s February 19 summary: U.K. and Germany not aligned with U.S. on Huawei ban.
  • U.S. officials have specifically threatened to “pare back” intelligence sharing with Germany if it used Huawei equipment, the Wall Street Journal reported last month.
  • The U.K. is even more important than Germany in this regard because it is “part of the Five Eyes security alliance alongside the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand,” the FT writes.
  • Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly overruled the concerns of defence secretary Gavin Williamson and some other ministers in approving Huawei equipment.
  • This is the U.K.’s distinction between core infrastructure, where Huawei will still not be allowed, and non-core infrastructure:

The core infrastructure is where sensitive information such as billing and customer details are stored. The non-core elements are the aerials and base stations on masts and rooftops and transmission equipment, which telecoms companies argue are passive in that data merely passes through and cannot be compromised.

Other news today in the tech cold war, the great power competition between the United States and China, or whatever else you want to call the increasingly tense relationship between the world’s two most powerful countries: