Britain’s defense committee to investigate security of 5G network

Britain’s parliamentary defense committee will investigate the security of the country’s 5G mobile network, the group of lawmakers said on Friday, amid continued concerns about the role of Chinese company Huawei.
Huawei 5G base station in China
In January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to grant Huawei a limited role in Britain’s 5G mobile network, frustrating a global bid by the United States to exclude the firm from the West’s next-generation communications systems.

The security of 5G will now be subject to an inquiry by a sub-committee of the parliamentary defense committee, it said.

Lawmaker Tobias Ellwood, launching the inquiry, said that once 5G was introduced it will be an “unextractable” part of British infrastructure.

Huawei Vice President Victor Zhang said in an emailed statement that the company would work with the committee to answer their questions.

“Over the last 18 months, the government and two parliamentary committees have conducted detailed assessments of the facts and concluded there is no reason to ban Huawei from supplying 5G equipment on cyber security grounds,” he added.

Huawei is confident some European telecoms firms will choose it to provide 5G technology for their core networks, the firm’s chief representative to the EU, Abraham Liu, told Reuters on Friday.

Shenzhen-based Huawei is at the centre of a spat between China and the U.S. with the latter saying the company’s 5G technology could be used as a backdoor spy channel for Beijing.

Huawei has denied the claims and countered the charges by saying the U.S. itself has a long track record of modifying digital products to collect intelligence.

Speaking to reporters in Copenhagen, Liu said he was confident European operators would pick Huawei as a provider of technology for their so-called core networks where sensitive data is processed.

The European Union in January unveiled new 5G guidelines for member states, in which it allowed individual countries to decide what part Huawei could play in their networks.

Liu said that after Huawei installs its 5G network technology, operators have “100% control” over any information flows in the network and that any access to the network is recorded.

“We build the whole highway and then the operators of the highway, they will handle the tollgate and how many cars are running on the highway,” he said.

Germany and France have yet to take an official stance on whether to limit or ban individual 5G technology suppliers from their mobile networks.

The cyber security agency in France, where Huawei has announced plans to build a manufacturing plant, is currently screening 5G equipment, including Huawei’s.