From mandatory masks to preaching politicians, life in lockdown can be more than unpredictable. And now with the latest in technology, we need to take a look at what’s really been going on behind the scenes. Nearly 8 months after the UK said they’d allow Huawei a limited role in Britain’s 5G networks, the UK has been set to ban Huawei technology from its 5G infrastructure – despite backlash from senior figures in the Conservative party. This comes after the U.S announced sanctions aimed at cutting off Huawei, a Chinese firm, from key chip supplies.
Huawei is one of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies and is a global leader in 5G technology. Washington believes Huawei poses as a national security risk, alleging its equipment could be used by Beijing for espionage. However, currently Huawei has denied this claim. One Whitehall source told The Sunday Times “The U.S. sanctions on Huawei are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” the source said. “The company is forbidden from using American intellectual property (IP) in its semi-conductors – they can’t even use tools to make new semi-conductors if those tools use American IP.”
So what exactly does this mean?
Trump’s “concern” arose from the apparent ties the Chinese company had with the Chinese Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army. As well as potential cyber espionage, it is thought that Chinese integration into Western projects for new critical national cyber infrastructure, such as 5G, would give China the advantage in any future cyber war.
Chinese ambassador to Britain, Liu Xiaoming, announced that “If you want to make China a hostile country, you will have to bear the consequences.” This sudden and unexpected ban arises after GCHQ “revised” its prior belief that the UK could manage any possible security risks from Huawei products.
Boris Johnson declared last month that he would proceed carefully because the government did not want any critical infrastructure to be controlled by “potentially hostile state vendors.” As for what’s next, Samsung executive vice president Woojune Kim told MPs on the Commons Science and Technology that it could “definitely” supply UK operators as it hopes to secure 20% of the market by 2020.
With different opinions from all sides of government, it will take a while until we see the full consequences of these actions taken against one of the global leaders in 5G communications.